Obama ready to test 'diplomatic path' with Iran

Obama ready to test 'diplomatic path' with Iran

US President Barack Obama today said that Iran's diplomatic overture in recent weeks could offer the basis for a meaningful agreement on its nuclear programme and his administration is ready to test a difficult "diplomatic path" with the country's new government.

Obama also expressed hope that "conciliatory words" by Iran about its nuclear programmes are "matched by actions that are transparent and verifiable."
"We are encouraged that President Rouhani received from the Iranian people a mandate to pursue a more moderate course, and given President (Hassan) Rouhani's stated commitment to reach an agreement, I am directing (Secretary of State) John Kerry to pursue this effort with the Iranian government in close cooperation with the European Union, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China," Obama said in his address to the 68th session of the General Assembly.

Obama welcomed statements made by the Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has issued a fatwah against the development of nuclear weapons as well as by President Rouhani that the Islamic republic will never develop a nuclear weapon.

"So these statements made by our respective governments should offer the basis for a meaningful agreement. We should be able to achieve a resolution that respects the rights of the Iranian people while giving the world confidence that the Iranian program is peaceful," Obama said in his nearly 50 minute address.

"But to succeed, conciliatory words will have to be matched by actions that are transparent and verifiable. After all, it's the Iranian government's choices that have led to the comprehensive sanctions that are currently in place.

"And this not -- is not simply an issue between the United States and Iran. The world has seen Iran evade its responsibilities in the past and has an abiding interest in making sure that Iran meets its obligations in the future."

The US President however cautioned that there may be roadblocks ahead.
"The roadblocks may prove to be too great, but I firmly believe the diplomatic path must be tested. That while the status quo will only deepen Iran's isolation, Iran's genuine commitment to go down a different path will be good for the region and for the world, and will help the Iranian people meet their extraordinary potential in commerce and culture, in science and education," Obama said.

He noted that the US and Iran have been "isolated" from one another since the Islamic revolution of 1979. The "mistrust" between the two nations is deep rooted with Iranians long complaining of a history of US interference in their affairs and of America's role in overthrowing the Iranian government during the Cold War.
"On the other hand, Americans see an Iranian government that has declared the United States an enemy and directly or through proxies taken American hostages, killed US troops and civilians, and threatened our ally Israel with destruction," he said.

"I don't believe this difficult history can be overcome overnight. The suspicions run too deep. But I do believe that if we can resolve the issue of Iran's nuclear programme, that can serve as a major step down a long road toward a different relationship, one based on mutual interests and mutual respect," he said.

Obama said he has in the past written to the supreme leader in Iran and President Rouhani that "America prefers to resolve our concerns over Iran’s nuclear program peacefully -- although we are determined to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon."

He stressed that America is not seeking a regime change and that it respects the right of the Iranian people to access peaceful nuclear energy.
He called on the Iranian government to meet its responsibilities under the Nuclear Non-proliferation treaty and UN Security Council resolutions.

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