March 20th, 2009
05:36 AM ET
9 years ago

Obama offers Iran 'the promise of a new beginning'

 Obama taped a video message to Iran.

Obama taped a video message to Iran.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama reached out to Iran on Friday - the start of the Iranian New Year - in a video message offering "the promise of a new beginning" that is "grounded in mutual respect."

The message is a dramatic shift in tone from that of the Bush administration, which included Iran, along with North Korea and Iraq, in an "axis of evil." It also echoes Obama's inaugural speech, in which he said to the Muslim world, "we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect."

In Friday's video, Obama said: "The United States wants the Islamic
Republic of Iran to take its rightful place in the community of nations. You have that right, but it comes with real responsibilities. And that place cannot be reached through terror or arms, but rather through peaceful actions that demonstrate the true greatness of the Iranian people and civilization."

There was no immediate response from Tehran to Obama's message, but Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said last month that his country would welcome talks with the United States "in a fair atmosphere with mutual respect."

The United States, several European nations and Israel suspect that
Tehran has been trying to acquire the capacity to build nuclear weapons, but Iran says its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes.

Last month, the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security released a report saying that Iran has reached "nuclear weapons breakout capability" - it has enough uranium to make a nuclear bomb.

The report was based on an analysis of data from the International Atomic Energy Agency. However, an IAEA official who asked not to be named cautioned against drawing such dramatic conclusions from the data, saying Iran's stock of low-enriched uranium would have to be turned into highly enriched uranium to be weapons-grade material. That hasn't been done, the official said.

The United States has had tortuous relations with Tehran since the
Islamic revolution in 1979, but the Obama message speaks of "new beginnings" with the promise of a new year.

"We have serious differences that have grown over time. My administration is now committed to diplomacy that addresses the full range of issues before us, and to pursuing constructive ties among the United States, Iran and the international community," the president said. "This process will not be advanced by threats. We seek, instead, engagement that is honest and grounded in mutual respect."

Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (83 Responses)
  1. worriedmom

    You mean Obama appeared on another comedy show???? Good Job, Mr. President. You are accomplishing exactly what you want. Showing the world how bad the U.S.A is. Geez i am surprised your guest speaker wasn't Queen Pelosi to let them know that we are so UN-AMERICAN

    March 20, 2009 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  2. Frank

    speechless on your comments. Obviously some of you people are fooled by media and politics.

    March 20, 2009 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  3. Shooky

    "Mutual respect" with Iran?! Obama needs to stick to the special olympics jokes and leave Iran to someone that isn't completely unqualified.

    March 20, 2009 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  4. Mike in SA

    I would love to hear what the Jewish community thinks about this. When Ahmadinejad starts showing mutual respect to them is when I start considering showing mutual respect to him.

    March 20, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  5. Some Guy

    So you right wingers are saying that ignoring them, hating them and outright attacking them has been working out really well for the past 30 years? Yeah, we should keep taking that approach. We have them right where we want them. Morons.

    March 20, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  6. Frank in Phoenix

    Ah, yes! The Jimmy Carter approach towards dealing with people that want to destroy us.

    March 20, 2009 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  7. Glen

    Chamberlain of the United Kingdom also followed a policy of appeasement which gave Hitler the confidence to start World War 2. Pity there are amateurs running the White House at such an important time as this. Welcome back to the foreign policies of Carter and the battered wife syndrome, Remember the Iran hostage crisis? The sooner Carter II goes the better.

    March 20, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  8. salas

    The pres is trying to figure out so many things at the same time.The recession and a nuclear iran,belligerant russia,combative china&the icing iraq&afghan wars.The best way is to buy more time by talking to iran to persuade them,to tow the path of peace,the US cant afford a war now wit its weak economy.Iranians or muslims arent animals, they would listen,they recognise the rights of others based on mutual respect,thats what their religion preaches.Its better to jaw-jaw rather than war-war!Some people missed the point for 8years

    March 20, 2009 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
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