Obama on Iran

IssueDecember 2008 - January 2009
News by Milan Rai

Barack Obama seems to be hardening his position on Iran still further, adding to the nuclear threat he made in June.

In remarks that have just come to light, Richard Danzig, Obama’s top foreign policy advisor, said in September that a military attack on Iran was a “terrible” choice, but “it may be that in some terrible world we will have to come to grips with such a terrible choice.”

Obama has been gradually altering his position on Iran since he won the Democratic party primary race, in part through promising to meet “separately, without precondition, during the first year of [his] administration”, the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, “in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries”. (See the candidates’ debate in South Carolina on 23 July 2007.)

Then Obama started talking about “tough” and “aggressive” diplomacy”.

On 4 June 2008, speaking before an Israeli lobby group (AIPAC), Obama introduced new conditions for talks.

He laid out three conditions, saying he would be willing to lead “tough and principled” diplomacy with “the appropriate Iranian leader” at “a time and place of my choosing”, and “if, and only if, it can advance the interests of the United States”.

The presidential candidate added: “If you refuse, we will ratchet up the pressure”.

Obama also made an implicit nuclear threat: “I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Everything in my power. Everything.”

Topics: Iran