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Obama: We Respect Iran’s Right to Nuclear Power

Obama supports supervised Iranian nuclear program, but warns against trying for nuclear weapons.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 9/24/2013, 6:44 PM

Iranian workers standing in front of the Bushehr nuclear power plant,
Iranian workers standing in front of the Bushehr nuclear power plant,
AFP photo

United States President Barack Obama sent a message of reconciliation to Iran in his speech to the United Nations on Tuesday. While Obama reiterated American opposition to the idea of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon, he expressed support for an Iranian civilian nuclear program.

The mistrust between America and Iran has “deep roots,” he began, citing Iranian frustration at U.S. interference and American upset over Iranian proxy attacks and threats against “our ally Israel.”

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

“Since I took office, I’ve made it clear in letters to the supreme leader in Iran and more recently to 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 continued.

“We are not seeking regime change, and we respect the right of the Iranian people to access peaceful nuclear energy.

“Instead, we insist that the Iranian government meet its responsibilities under the Nuclear Non-proliferation treaty and U.N. Security Council resolutions.”

Iranian religious and political leaders have recently spoken out against nuclear weapons, he noted. “So these statements made by our respective governments should offer the basis for a meaningful agreement.”

However, he noted, “to succeed, conciliatory words will have to be matched by actions that are transparent and verifiable.”

The issue involves the international community, he said, not only the United States and Iran.

Obama concluded, “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.”