Obama Hints at Iran’s Citizen Nuclear Program Being ‘Legitimate’; Barak Calls for Tougher Sanctions on Iranians
United States President Barack Obama reiterated that Iran may have some right to nuclear energy – provided it takes steps to prove its aspirations are peaceful.
“Without going into specifics, what I do believe is that Iran has legitimate energy concerns, legitimate aspirations. On the other hand, the international community has a very real interest in preventing a nuclear arms race in the region,” Obama said in a BBC interview broadcast Tuesday.
The U.S. leader also restated plans to pursue direct diplomacy with Tehran to encourage it to set aside any ambitions for nuclear weapons it might harbor. >>>
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Wednesday that Tuesday’s launch of an Iranian satellite was further indication the international community should tighten sanctions on the Islamic republic.
He said that the launch is an “Iranian technological feat and a proof of [the country’s] intelligence and military capabilities.”
On Tuesday, Barak said that diplomatic efforts to persuade Iran to abandon its nuclear program must be accompanied by a clear deadline, after which harsh sanctions could be imposed. >>>
U.S. President Barack Obama says he wants to see progress in direct talks with Iran on the country’s nuclear program by the end of the year.
The Obama administration says it seeks to create a change in tone towards Iran from the hostile one adopted by Washington during George W. Bush’s term.
In a Tuesday interview with BBC, however, Obama repeated U.S. allegations that Iran aims to develop nuclear weapons.
“What I have said is that it is in the world’s interests for Iran to set aside ambitions for a nuclear weapon,” he said, adding the best way for that to be accomplished was ‘through tough direct diplomacy’.
“Although I don’t want to put artificial time tables on that process, we do want to make sure that, by the end of this year, we’ve actually seen a serious process move forward,” Obama added, on the eve of a trip to the Middle East.
Since taking office as the U.S. president in January, Obama talked of a policy change toward Iran, saying the U.S. would extend a hand of peace to Iran if it ‘unclenched its fist’.
The Islamic Republic was invited to an international conference on Afghanistan in March. Washington has also backed Iran’s participation on a G8 meeting on Afghanistan and Pakistan later this month.
The Obama administration however has extended Clinton-era sanctions. It has also imposed sanctions on six Iranian firms over alleged links to Tehran’s missile and nuclear work last month.
Iranian officials have described a real shift in U.S. foreign policy toward Iran as the key to successful talks.
Tehran says Washington should manifest a ‘genuine’ change in action rather than a change in tone by lifting anti-Iran sanctions and stopping to spread allegations against the country.
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