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Obama Gets Tough on Iran, Calls Crackdown Appalling

President Obama has answered Republicans who said he was too timid on Iran, raising his rhetoric about the bloody aftermath of the elections in that country. Speaking at a White House News conference, Mr. Obama said he and the world are "appalled and outraged" at the government's crackdown on protesters:

"I strongly condemn these unjust actions. I have made it clear that the United States respects the sovereignty of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and is not interfering in Iran's affairs. But we must also bear witness to the courage and dignity of the Iranian people, and to a remarkable opening within Iranian society. And we deplore violence against innocent civilians anywhere that it takes place."

The President was just as adamant when responding to charges that he was slow to speak out, and that when he did, he wasn't forceful enough:

"I don't think that's accurate. Track what I've been saying. We've been entirely consistent."

When asked if his strong language was influenced by pressure from such Republicans as Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham (see article below), Obama scoffed, "What do you think?," eliciting laughs from the roomful of reporters.

President Obama said he saw the brutal and disturbing video of Neda Agha Soltan dying after being shot, calling it "heartbreaking:"

"We have seen courageous women stand up to brutality and threats, and we have experienced the searing image of a woman bleeding to death on the streets. While this loss is raw and painful, we also know this: Those who stand up for justice are always on the right side of history."

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