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Obama Renews Nowruz Offer

Samara Greenberg

Over the weekend, President Obama addressed Iranians in a videotaped message and renewed his offer of dialogue and diplomacy with Iran on the country’s new year’s holiday celebrating spring’s arrival, Nowruz. Last year, Obama marked Nowruz with an unprecedented message offering Tehran a “new beginning” of diplomatic engagement with the United States. His offer failed to achieve any concrete results, however.

In his message released Saturday, the President also renewed his pledge to pursue aggressive sanctions to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear capabilities. As he said: “We are working with the international community to hold the Iranian government accountable because they refuse to live up to their international obligations, but our offer of comprehensive diplomatic contacts and dialogue stands.” To view the President’s message, click here.

In response, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced that Iran will stand even more firmly against the West. “Enemies have tried to weaken our country but they have failed and in the coming year we will stand even more firmly against them than before,” he said. Even more, on Sunday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei rejected Obama’s offer and accused him of arrogance. “You cannot talk about peace and friendship, and at the same time plot and plan sedition, and think that you can hurt the regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he said in an address on state television.

In the spring 2010 issue of inFOCUS, Laura Grossman notes, “To be effective in statecraft, both carrots and sticks are used to reward and cajole. A dangerous regime like Iran will not cease its actions simply because it is asked. It is more likely to curtail its behavior if it knows there are immediate and significant consequences.” Indeed, while President Obama offered Iran a new beginning one year ago, and reiterated his offer again last week, he has yet to “take definitive action” against Tehran, allowing Ahmadinejad to continue Iran’s nuclear program. As a result, “Iran continues to sponsor terrorism around the world, and its people continue to suffer at the hands of an oppressive regime.”