Obama Sends Mixed Signals on Iran

by Jason Ditz, December 07, 2008

Appearing on this morning’s Meet the Press, President-elect Barack Obama attempting to clarify his position on Iran, but in many ways sparked more questions than he settled. Typifying his largely vacuous comments was the declaration that he was going to let Iran decide if “they want to do this the hard way or the easy way.”

To that end, Obama proposed “tough but direct diplomacy,” hitting out at what he termed “their development of nuclear weapons” and declaring “their threats against Israel are contrary to everything we believe in.” Obama left open the possibility of direct talks while adding “we may have to tighten up those sanctions.”

The United States has repeatedly hit out at Iran’s civilian uranium enrichment program, but while officials continue to accuse Iran of developing nuclear weapons, America’s National Intelligence Estimate concluded that Iran halted any efforts to that end.

In an attempt to convince the Iranian government to abandon the enrichment program, the US has pressed through an ever-increasing number of international sanctions on Iran. Iran has threatened retaliatory strikes if Israel follows through on its repeated threats to attack.

During the campaign, Obama hit out at President Bush for his unwillingness to hold direct talks with Iran. Today’s comments suggest Obama continues to be open to the direct talks, but seems determined to continue the Bush Administration’s policy of threats and sanctions.

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