President Barack Obama announced new U.S. engagement with Iran during his address Tuesday to the United Nations General Assembly.
Obama stated that the U.S. “ not seeking regime change and we respect the right of the Iranian people to access peaceful nuclear energy.” But he stressed that the Iranian government must meet responsibilities under international law on nuclear proliferation.
“We should be able to achieve a resolution that respects the rights of the Iranian people, while giving the world confidence that the Iranian program is peaceful,” Obama said. “But to succeed, conciliatory words will have to be matched by actions that are transparent and verifiable. After all, it's the Iranian government’s choices that have led to the comprehensive sanctions that are currently in place and this is not simply an issue between the United States and Iran. The world has seen Iran evade its responsibilities in the past and has an abiding interest in making sure that Iran meets its obligations in the future.”
As the United States is trying to prevent Iran's nuclear weapons program, Obama said he is seeking a relationship with the Islamic government of mutual interest. New Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has rhetorically made gestures of outreach to the U.S.
"Given President Rouhani’s stated commitment to reach an agreement, I am directing [Secretary of State] John Kerry to pursue this effort with the Iranian government in close cooperation with the European Union -- the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China," Obama said.
Obama noted the “deep roots” of distrust between the U.S. and Iran since the 1979 Iranian revolution.
“Iranians have long complained of a history of U.S. interference in their affairs and of America’s role in overthrowing an Iranian government during the Cold War,” Obama said. “On the other hand, Americans see an Iranian government that has declared the United States an enemy and directly -- or through proxies -- taken American hostages, killed U.S. troops and civilians, and threatened our ally Israel with destruction.”
He added, “I don’t believe this difficult history can be overcome overnight -- 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 towards a different relationship, one based on mutual interests and mutual respect.”