President Barack Obama is open to the idea of opening an embassy in Tehran within the final two years of his term.
“I never say never, but I think these things have to go in steps,” Obama said when asked about the prospect during an NPR interview published Monday.
Obama, who recently moved to normalize relations with Cuba, cautioned Iran’s circumstances are far different. However, he nevertheless insisted the US can empathise with the Islamic Republic’s demands regarding its nuclear program.
“I think we do, because if you look at the negotiations as they have proceeded, what we’ve said to the Iranians is that we are willing to recognise your ability to develop a modest nuclear power program for your energy needs,” Obama said, according to NPR’s transcript. “But there’s a way of doing that that nevertheless gives the world assurances that you don’t have breakout capacity.”
The US broke diplomatic relations with Iran in 1980 but is now finalising a deal with the country on its nuclear program. An agreement was supposed to be finalised last month but the two sides could not reach a deal. Negotiations were extended to July.
Obama acknowledged in the interview that Iran has “legitimate defence concerns,” especially after its war with Iraq. However, he argued that these concerns have to be “separated out” from the country’s “adventurism, … support of organisations like Hezbollah,” and “the threats they have directed towards Israel.”
“On the one hand, you need to understand what their legitimate needs and concerns are,” he said. “On the other end, you don’t need to tolerate or make excuses for positions that they have taken that violate international law. … They have got a chance to get right with the world. This is not just about us.”
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