At his first press conference in his new status, US President-elect Barack Obama hit out at the Iranian government today, accusing them of “development of a nuclear weapon” and vowing “to mount an international effort to prevent that from happening.”
The Bush Administration has long accused Iran of having nuclear ambitions, in spite of a National Intelligence Estimate last year which concluded Iran halted any such endeavors in 2003 and an IAEA which has continued to certify that none of the nuclear material for Iran’s civilian nuclear reactor has been diverted to any other use. Israel has likewise continued to insist that they are “convinced” Iran is trying to build a nuclear bomb, and has left open the possibility of launching an attack.
Obama’s comments may have been directed at those of Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak during a visit with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice yesterday, intended to reassure a wary Israel that the US hostility toward Iran will not undergo any dramatic changes.
During the presidential primaries, Obama presented a more conciliatory view towards Iran, cautioning against any talk of attacking Iran and calling for direct talks with the Iranian government. Obama’s latest comments come at a time when Iranian officials seem open to reconciliation.
President-elect Obama declined to say what form this international effort against Iran would take, saying “we have only one president at a time.” His only comment was that he would move deliberately on how to respond.