Key Statements from the Obama administration on Iran

Feb 2, 2009

The following is a collection of key statements on Iran from President Obama and other key administration officials.

WHITE HOUSE WEBSITE
The current policy position is from the foreign policy platform of the White House website:

Iran
Diplomacy: Barack Obama supports tough and direct diplomacy with Iran without preconditions. Now is the time to use the power of American diplomacy to pressure Iran to stop their illicit nuclear program, support for terrorism, and threats toward Israel. Obama and Biden will offer the Iranian regime a choice. If Iran abandons its nuclear program and support for terrorism, we will offer incentives like membership in the World Trade Organization, economic investments, and a move toward normal diplomatic relations. If Iran continues its troubling behavior, we will step up our economic pressure and political isolation. In carrying out this diplomacy, we will coordinate closely with our allies and proceed with careful preparation. Seeking this kind of comprehensive settlement with Iran is our best way to make progress.



INAUGURAL ADDRESS
President Obama's inaugural address on January 20, 2009 included several references to the new direction that Obama would take with Iran and the rest of the Muslim world:

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect.

To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict or blame their society's ills on the West, know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy.

To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.



PRESIDENT OBAMA'S INTERVIEW WITH AL ARABIYA

Obama gave his first interview since taking office to the Arab TV station Al-Arabiya, on January 27, 2009.

Obama: I do think that it is impossible for us to think only in terms of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and not think in terms of what's happening with Syria or Iran or Lebanon or Afghanistan and Pakistan.

These things are interrelated. And what I've said, and I think Hillary Clinton has expressed this in her confirmation, is that if we are looking at the region as a whole and communicating a message to the Arab world and the Muslim world, that we are ready to initiate a new partnership based on mutual respect and mutual interest, then I think that we can make significant progress.

Q: Will the United States ever live with a nuclear Iran? And if not, how far are you going in the direction of preventing it?

Obama: You know, I said during the campaign that it is very important for us to make sure that we are using all the tools of U.S. power, including diplomacy, in our relationship with Iran.

Now, the Iranian people are a great people, and Persian civilization is a great civilization. Iran has acted in ways that's not conducive to peace and prosperity in the region: their threats against Israel; their pursuit of a nuclear weapon which could potentially set off an arms race in the region that would make everybody less safe; their support of terrorist organizations in the past -- none of these things have been helpful.

But I do think that it is important for us to be willing to talk to Iran, to express very clearly where our differences are, but where there are potential avenues for progress. And we will over the next several months be laying out our general framework and approach. And as I said during my inauguration speech, if countries like Iran are willing to unclench their fist, they will find an extended hand from us.



U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UN SUSAN RICE

Ambassador Rice, a cabinet member of the Obama administration, included the following mention of Iran in her first press briefing at the UN.

Well, let me say broadly on Iran, as the President has said on a number of occasions, we remain deeply concerned about the threat that Iran's nuclear program poses to the region, indeed to the United States and the entire international community. We look forward to engaging in vigorous diplomacy, that includes direct diplomacy with Iran as well as continued collaboration and partnership with the P-5 plus one. And we will look at what is necessary and appropriate with respect to maintaining pressure towards that goal of ending Iran's nuclear program.






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