Obama on Iran: "Talk is no Substitute for Action"

5356466Updated 3:53 p.m. ET

President Obama said today that talks with Iran in Geneva represented a "constructive beginning" but that "it must be followed with constructive action by the Iranian government."

"Talk is no substitute for action," the president said, stating that the United States is prepared to apply increased pressure to the country. "Our patience is not unlimited."

The talks in Geneva involve Iran and the so-called "P5-plus-1" countries – the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (the U.S., Britain, China, France and Russia) as well as Germany.

They are focused on Iran's nuclear capability and come in the wake of revelations that Iran has been building a covert nuclear facility in Qom that appears to be designed for the production of a nuclear weapon. (Pictured below.)

The president said Thursday that Iran "heard a clear and unified message from the international community" at the talks in Geneva. He said the country must display a "commitment to transparency" in the coming weeks.

"The P5-plus-1 is united and we have an international community that has reaffirmed its commitment to nonproliferation and disarmament," he said.

(AP Photo/GeoEye Sateliite Image)
To that end, the president said the country "must grant unfettered access to [International Atomic Energy Agency] inspectors within two weeks."

He also said Iran must also prove that its nuclear program is meant for "peaceful purposes," not the production of weapons.

"Iran must demonstrate through concrete steps that it will live up to its responsibilities with regard to its nuclear program," the president said.

"As I've said before, we support Iran's right to peaceful nuclear power," Mr. Obama added. He said for Iran to transfer low-enriched uranium to a third country for fuel fabrication "would be a step towards building confidence that Iran's program is in fact peaceful."

"Going forward, we expect to see swift action," he said. "We're committed to serious and meaningful engagement, but we're not interested in talking for the sake of talking."

"If Iran does not take steps in the near future to live up to its obligations, then the United States will not continue to negotiate indefinitely, and we are prepared to move towards increased pressure," he continued.

The president said if Iran does "live up to its obligations," it will be able to take "a path towards a better relationship with the United States, increased integration for Iran within the international community, and a better future for all Iranians."

Mr. Obama added that "we've entered a phase of intensive international negotiations" in which "pledges of cooperation must be fulfilled."

"This is not about singling out Iran; this is not about creating double standards," he concluded. "This is about the global nonproliferation regime and Iran's right to peaceful nuclear energy, just as all nations have it, but with that right comes responsibilities."

"And the burden of meeting these responsibilities lies with the Iranian government, and they are now the ones that need to make that choice," Mr. Obama said.