In Monday’s press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. President Barack Obama expressed optimism that direct talks with Iran will dissuade it from building nuclear weapons. Obama also noted that reformist candidates running in Iran’s June presidential election could help to that end.
Iran’s Supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei rejected Obama’s remarks, urging Iranians to reelect President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and not vote for pro-West candidates. Ahmadinejad, accused of bribing poor voters, calls for the U.S. and Israel’s destruction. As scholar Michael Rubin notes, Iran’s government reflects the will of the supreme leader, who maintains ultimate control.
Tehran shows no sign of abandoning its quest to attain nuclear weapons. Today, Tehran launched a missile with a range of 1,200 miles while Ahmadinejad threatened to send any attacker “to hell.”