President Barack Obama has rejected criticism that he has not responded
quickly or harshly enough to attempts by Iran's leadership to crush
dissent in the aftermath of elections there earlier this month.
In a White House news conference Tuesday, Mr. Obama said the U.S. respects the sovereignty of Iran, and is not interfering in its internal affairs. But he said the U.S. deplores violence against innocent civilians anywhere it takes place.
He said he must be driven by duty, not by Congress, on what to do about Iran. He said the United States is going to monitor the situation and see how it plays out.
Opposition Republicans -- including key Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham -- have criticized the president for not taking a stronger stand on the events in Iran.
The economy, energy and health care reform also featured prominently in Mr. Obama's news conference. The president said it is too early to know if another stimulus plan is needed to boost the economy.
On health care reform, Mr. Obama dismissed criticism from Republicans and some fellow Democrats that his proposal for an optional government-run insurance plan will run private insurers out of business.
He said if private insurers are giving consumers the best possible deal, then is would not be logical to suggest the public plan will represent an unfair competition.