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In an interview with the
British Broadcasting Corporation, President Barack Obama said it is in the
interest of the world and of Iran itself that the Islamic Republic "set
aside ambitions for a nuclear weapon."
Mr. Obama said Iran "has the potential to be an extraordinarily powerful
and prosperous country," but Iran is more likely to achieve that potential
in the absence of nuclear weapons that could trigger a nuclear arms race in the
President Obama said that Iran does have "legitimate energy concerns [and]
legitimate aspirations." The key right now, he said, "is to initiate
a process that is meaningful, that is rigorous, between not only the United
States and Iran, bilaterally, but also continuing the P5 plus one discussions
in a way that is constructive."
President Obama has changed U.S. policy and is pursuing a diplomatic strategy
that includes participating fully in diplomatic discussions with Iran over its
nuclear program with representatives from Britain, China, France, Russia and
Germany. Mr. Obama told the BBC that if "thirty years of loggerheads
between Iran and the United States" are preventing the Iranians from
seeing the dangers presented by their pursuit of nuclear weapons, the United
States wants to open the door to discussions "and see if they walk
Mr. Obama also said that part of the solution he envisions is "to
reinvigorate a much broader agenda for nuclear nonproliferation - including the
United States and Russia drawing down our stockpiles in very significant
ways." This, said Mr. Obama, could lessen the Iranians feeling "that
they are treated differently than anybody else. That," he said,
"makes them embattled."
Part and parcel of our broader agenda, said President Obama, is "a broader
conversation about how all countries have an interest in containing and
reducing over time . . .nuclear proliferation."