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Obama calls Iran "threat," says tighten pressure

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama on Wednesday said Iran is a “great threat” and called for tighter sanctions after it test-fired nine missiles.

“Iran is a great threat. We have to make sure we are working with our allies to apply tightened pressure on Iran,” the Illinois senator, who will face Republican John McCain in the November election, said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Iran said it fired the missiles as a warning to the United States and Israel that it was ready to retaliate if they attacked over its disputed nuclear projects.

Obama said that if he were president, he would combine more direct diplomacy with the threat of much tougher economic sanctions.

“I think what this underscores is the need for us to create a kind of policy that is putting the burden on Iran to change behavior, and frankly we just have not been able to do that over the last several years,” Obama said on the CBS “Early Show.”

Obama cited reports that U.S. exports to Iran have increased under President George W. Bush even as the administration has toughened its rhetoric.

(Reporting by Andy Sullivan and Vicki Allen)

To read more about the U.S. political campaign, visit Reuters "Tales from the Trail: 2008" online at blogs.reuters.com/trail08/

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