Today, the President once again spoke to millions of Iranians, this time in an interview with Bahman Kalbasi of BBC Persian.
"Well, look, I am obviously concerned about the Iranian people, and they are trying to live their lives. And there is so much promise in the country. The question is can the Iranian regime take a different approach that would help its people as opposed to harm its people."
The President strongly condemned the outrageous comments that President Ahmadinejad made at the United Nations General Assembly. Unfortunately, those comments continue a series of decisions by the Iranian government that have isolated it internationally.
The President reaffirmed that while we have differences with the Iranian government, we have great respect for the Iranian people. Iranians are heirs to a great civilization, with a long history of innovation, entrepreneurship and science. Americans and Iranians are not natural or permanent enemies. In fact, our people share a commitment to justice, a drive to improve the lives of our children, and a devotion to family. The United States is home to hundreds of thousands of Iranian-Americans whose contributions to the fabric of our nation are unquestioned, and whose ties to their loved ones in Iran remain strong.
Our nations have had a turbulent history in recent years, but our future can be found in the commonalities of our two peoples. However, to reach that future, the Iranian government must change course. The United States acknowledges the Islamic Republic of Iran’s rights to peaceful nuclear energy, but with those rights come responsibilities, and the government Iran has continually failed to meet its international obligations, and to demonstrate that its nuclear program is peaceful. Furthermore, the Iranian government has failed to respect the human rights of its own citizens.
Like all nations and governments, Iran faces choices. These choices can have a direct bearing on the future of generations as well as the direction of history. As the President said in Cairo, the world knows what Iran is against; Iran needs to tell us what it is for. The Iranian government has a choice to make. It can live up to its obligations, and respect the rights of its citizens. Or it can choose to continue isolating itself, and denying its citizens the future that the Iranian people deserve. We want Iran to change course so that its people can have a better life, and the region – and the world – will be more secure.
Ben Rhodes is Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications