WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama said on Tuesday he would keep the diplomatic pressure on Iran to abandon its nuclear enrichment activities, but pushed back at political critics calling for military action -“this is not a game.”

Obama accused his Republican rivals of spewing ‘a lot of bluster’ and insisted that he had taken a responsible approach to isolate Iran - and coax Iran back to the negotiating table in hopes of halting its nuclear plans diplomatically.

Obama said, “Hawks pressing for US military intervention do not have the responsibility. They are not the commander-in-chief.”

Pushed back a little at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s statement, wherein he said, “None of us can afford to wait much longer,” Obama said, “Decisions do not need to be rushed in the next week or month.” He said that he delivered that message to Netanyahu when they met at the White House Monday.

Obama said his critics are forgetting the ‘cost of war’ in their rush to punish Iran and defend Israel, which sees a nuclear Iran as a mortal threat in its neighbourhood. “Rhetoric on the right is more about politics than about trying to solve a difficult problem,” Obama said.

He said that he was focused on ‘crippling sanctions’ already imposed on Iran and on international pressure to keep that nation from developing a nuclear weapon.

He added that Iranians needed to show how serious they were about resolving the crisis. He said, “There are steps the Iranians can take that are verifiable and will allow it to be in compliance with international norms and mandates.”