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We watched the energy of Iran’s election with great admiration only to be appalled by the manner in which the government used violence to quell the voices of the Iranian people and then tried to hide its actions by arresting foreign journalists and nationals and expelling them and cutting off access to technology.
As we and our G-8 partners have made clear, these actions are deplorable and unacceptable. We know very well what we inherited with Iran because we deal with that inheritance every day. We know that refusing to deal with the Islamic Republic has not succeeded in altering the Iranian march toward a nuclear weapon, reducing Iranian support for terror, or improving Iran’s treatment of its own citizens.
Neither the president nor I have any illusions that dialogue with the Islamic Republic will guarantee success of any kind. And the prospects have certainly shifted in the weeks following the election. But we also understand the importance of offering to engage Iran and giving its leaders a clear choice whether to join the international community as a responsible member or to continue down a path to further isolation.
Direct talks provide the best vehicle for presenting and explaining that choice. That is why we offered Iran’s leaders an unmistakable opportunity. Iran does not have a right to nuclear, military capacity, and we’re determined to prevent that. But it does have a right to civil nuclear power if it reestablishes the confidence of the international community that it will use its programs exclusively for peaceful purposes.
Iran become a constructive actor in the region if it stops threatening its neighbors and supporting terrorism. It can assume a responsible position in the international community if it fulfills its obligations on human rights.
The choice is clear. We remain ready to engage with Iran, but the time for action is now. The opportunity will not remain open indefinitely.