Obama: Iranian People Want 'Different Direction'

Obama: Iranian People Want 'Different Direction'

US President Barack Obama said that Iran’s election result showed the country’s people wanted to back away from confrontation with the outside world but ruled out for the moment lifting economic sanctions on Tehran.

But the United States would have to wait to see how the political situation develops, as the country’s supreme leader still retained authority over key decisions, Obama said.

In Enniskillen at the G8 summit, Obama said he and Russian President Vladimir Putin had voiced “cautious optimism” that the election result could breathe life into stalled talks between Tehran and world powers over its disputed nuclear program.

Iran faces tough sanctions over its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment, an effort which the United States and Israel fear is laying the ground for a nuclear weapons capability.

In the interview, Obama said there is a possibility the Iranian leadership would pursue diplomatic talks with the United States in a “serious” way and his administration remained open to direct discussions.

The US side was ready to try to defuse tensions but Iran had to abide by its international obligations and show that it was not trying to build nuclear weapons, he said.

There were no preconditions for talks but Tehran had to understand that the most strict economic sanctions would stay in place without clear steps from Iran demonstrating it was not developing an atomic bomb, he added.

The most powerful sanctions “will not be lifted in the absence of significant steps in showing the international community that Iran is not pursuing a nuclear weapon.”