March 31st, 2009
05:50 AM ET
14 years ago

Iranian official: Obama's change toward Iran must be put to the test

(CNN) - President Barack Obama's recent speech about beginning new relations with Iran must be put to the test, an Iranian government spokesman wrote in editorial in the Los Angeles Times Tuesday.

"Mr. Obama's efforts to replace aggressive rhetoric in official U.S.
statements with the language of peace and mutual respect is a step forward," Ali Akbar Javanfekr wrote. " If this change of tone is also manifested practically in the official policies of the U.S., it will be an important step"

Javanfekr, a spokesman for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, blasted the past statements of former President George W. Bush and said Obama should not repeat these actions.

"We are, however, pleased to observe that Mr. Obama seems to be
attempting to rehabilitate the tainted image of the United States," the
spokesman wrote. "Mr. Obama's claims of responsibility and honesty must ultimately be put to the test."

Obama released the video-taped speech Javanfekr was referring to on March 20 - the start of the Iranian New Year.

"The United States wants the Islamic Republic of Iran to take its
rightful place in the community of nations," Obama said in the video. "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."

The United States has had contentious relations with Tehran since the
Islamic revolution in 1979.

Javanfekr mentioned some of the issues between the countries in the
editorial including the 1988 downing of an Iranian passenger airliner by a U.S. warship that killed 290 people. Officials onboard the U.S. cruiser at the time said they had mistaken the plane for an F-14 fighter. The U.S. government apologized and offered compensation.

Another contentious issue is the the fact that the United States,
several European nations and Israel suspect that Tehran has been trying to acquire the capacity to build nuclear weapons. Iran has said its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes.

That issue was not addressed in the editorial.

Filed under: Iran • President Obama
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