WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama said Tuesday that a peaceful resolution was still possible in the international showdown with Iran over its nuclear ambitions.
But Obama vowed in his annual State of the Union speech that he would "take no options off the table," including the military option, in preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
The world community has overcome its divisions and was now united on how to check Iran's nuclear ambitions, Obama told lawmakers from both chambers of the US Congress, in remarks prepared for delivery.
"The regime is more isolated than ever before; its leaders are faced with crippling sanctions, and as long as they shirk their responsibilities, this pressure will not relent," Obama said.
"Let there be no doubt: America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal," the president declared.
"But a peaceful resolution of this issue is still possible," he said.
The United States and the European Union have stepped up sanctions targeting Iran's oil and banking sector as part of efforts to force Iran to stop uranium enrichment, which they fear masks a drive to produce an atomic bomb.
Iran insists its enrichment program is purely peaceful.
Iran's leaders have warned they could close the Strait of Hormuz -- a key transit route for global oil supplies -- if increased Western sanctions over Tehran's suspect nuclear program halt Iranian oil exports.