President Obama said “Iran will and should be a regional power” in an interview with the New York Times’ Thomas Friedman released on Tuesday.
Obama was asked about Iran’s” silent majority” and what he’d say to them, he answered, “What I’d say to them is this offers a historic opportunity. Their economy has been cratering as a consequence of the sanctions. They have the ability now to take some decisive steps to move towards a more constructive relationship with the world community. And what I would say to them is the same thing I said earlier this morning, they need to seize that opportunity, their leaders need to seize that opportunity. And the truth of the matter is, is that Iran will be and should be a regional power. They are a big country and a sophisticated country in the region. They don’t need to invite the hostility and the opposition of their neighbors by their behavior. It’s not necessary for them to be great, to denigrate Israel or threaten Israel or engage in Holocaust denial or anti-Semitic activity. Now, that’s what I would say to the Iranian people. Whether the Iranian people have sufficient influence to fundamentally shift how their leaders think about these issues, time will tell.”
He added that the deal should not be judged by whether it changes Iran’s regime, solves “every problem that can be traced back to Iran,” or eliminates all of Iran’s bad behavior worldwide.
Later, he said that Iran should be “called into account” for the behavior of its proxies, and that US allies in the region shouldn’t give Iran “opportunities for mischief.”
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