In a recent interview with NPR, President Obama was asked whether or not he could envision opening a U.S. embassy in Iran during his final two years. “I never say never,” replied Obama, adding that U.S.-Iranian ties must be restored first.
Obama told NPR that the situation with Iran differs from Cuba because the communist island is much smaller and does not pose a real threat to America. Iran, he explained, has nuclear capabilities and also has a “track record of state-sponsored terrorism“:
Tehran is a large, sophisticated country that has a track record of state-sponsored terrorism, that we know was attempting to develop a nuclear weapon — or at least the component parts that would be required to develop a nuclear weapon — that has engaged in disruptions to our allies, whose rhetoric is not only explicitly anti-American but also has been incendiary when it comes to its attitude towards the state of Israel.
Despite Iran’s destructive capabilities and history of funding terrorism, Obama told NPR he still hopes that he can reach a nuclear deal with them to help them rejoin the global community.
Obama said that since he came into office, the world has become united, leaving Iran in isolation. But if Iran is willing to play by the rules, it could be a “very successful regional power“:
[W]hen I came into office, the world was divided and Iran was in the driver’s seat. Now the world’s united because of the actions we’ve taken, and Iran’s the one that’s isolated. They have a path to break through that isolation and they should seize it. Because if they do, there’s incredible talent and resources and sophistication inside of — inside of Iran, and it would be a very successful regional power that was also abiding by international norms and international rules, and that would be good for everybody. That would be good for the United States, that would be good for the region, and most of all, it would be good for the Iranian people.
In late November, the Obama administration and allies gave Iran a seven-month extension on dismantling large parts of its nuclear infrastructure after the country failed to meet another deadline.