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Iran, The U.S. And Proliferation

Speaking to the Turkish parliament during his 8-day trip to Europe, President Barack Obama sounded a theme he stressed often during the trip: The United States will strive to find areas of common ground with other countries and will build relationships based on mutual respect.

In that context, Mr. Obama once again spoke of the opportunities and options facing the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran:

"We want Iran to play its rightful role in the community of nations. Iran is a great civilization. We want them to engage in the economic and political integration that brings prosperity and security. But Iran's leaders must choose whether they will try to build a weapon or build a better future for their people."

President Obama said that "no one is served by the spread of nuclear weapons," and peace in the region will be advanced if Iran forgoes any nuclear weapons ambitions.

In a speech in Prague earlier in the week, Mr. Obama spoke of the dangerous increase in nuclear proliferation-related trade that has occurred over the past two decades:

"Black market trade in nuclear secrets and nuclear methods abound. The technology to build a bomb has spread. Terrorists are determined to buy, build or steal one. ... One nuclear weapon exploded in one city – be it New York or Moscow, Islamabad or Mumbai, Tokyo or Tel Aviv, Paris or Prague, could kill hundreds of thousands of people."

Promising to take "concrete steps towards a world without nuclear weapons," President Obama said "the U.S. will reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy, and urge others to do the same."

The U.S. will work to negotiate a new strategic arms reduction treaty with Moscow, renew efforts to safeguard nuclear material, and press for a treaty that ends the production of fissile material for use in state nuclear weapons, among other measures.

Noting that Iran has not yet built a nuclear weapon, Mr. Obama said the United States supports Iran's right to peaceful nuclear energy with rigorous inspections.

"That's the path the Islamic Republic can take. Or," said President Obama, "the government can choose increased isolation, international pressure, and a potential nuclear arms race in the region that will increase insecurity for all."