It has been a year since President Barack Obama signaled his desire to begin a new relationship with Iran by sending Nowruz greetings to the people and leaders of the Islamic Republic. "We seek ... engagement that is honest and grounded in mutual respect," said Mr.Obama.
But as Vice President Joe Biden noted recently, "Iran thus far has refused to cooperate, as the whole world has witnessed." Instead, said Mr. Biden, Iran has engaged in more violations of international obligations, "like undeclared enrichment facilities that were recently exposed by the United States, and the decision to enrich uranium to 20 percent, and to build more enrichment facilities, all violations." Mr. Biden also noted Iran's rejection of a good-faith offer to exchange its low enriched uranium for fuel that could power a research reactor to produce medical isotopes. And the Iranian government, he said, "continues to deploy thugs to lock up and beat down those who bravely take to the streets in a quest for basic justice in their own country."
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says Iran's nuclear program is an issue of grave concern for the international community, for which the U.S. is still seeking a diplomatic solution:
"But there must be a solution. Iran is not living up to its international obligations, and therefore, we're working together with our other partners in the P-5+1 to bring together a very clear international consensus in the Security Council that gives Iran the message it needs to hear that its behavior does have consequences and that its pursuit of nuclear weapons poses a direct threat both to regional and global security."'
Secretary of State Clinton made a clear distinction between peaceful nuclear energy and the pursuit of nuclear weapons. "We have consistently said that Iran is entitled to civil nuclear power," said Secretary Clinton. "It is a nuclear weapons program that it is not entitled to."
In a recent television interview, President Obama expressed regret that the Iranian government "has been more concerned about preventing their people from exercising their democratic and human rights than trying to solve the [nuclear] problem diplomatically. ... It is a hard problem," said Mr. Obama, "but is a problem that we need to solve, because if Iran gets a nuclear weapon then you could potentially see a nuclear arms race throughout the Middle East and that would be tremendously damaging to our national security interests."