AJC: Obama's Diplomacy with Iran Must Be Firm - Backed Up by Sanctions

Sep 25, 2013, 10:47 ET from American Jewish Committee

NEW YORK, Sept 25. 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AJC praised President Obama for highlighting in his UN General Assembly address the ongoing effort by Iran to achieve nuclear-weapons capability. The Iranian government, under newly elected President Hassan Rouhani, has yet to show any indication that it is slowing down its nuclear program.

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20100816/AJCLOGO)

"We insist that the Iranian government meet its responsibilities under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and UN Security Council resolutions," said Obama. "We reject the development of nuclear weapons that could trigger a nuclear arms race in the region, and undermine the global non-proliferation regime."

Coming two days before a scheduled meeting in New York between Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif, together with envoys of Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia (the P5+1 group), Obama stressed that America seeks to resolve "concerns over Iran's nuclear program, peacefully, but we are determined to prevent them from developing a nuclear weapon."

AJC Executive Director David Harris welcomed President Obama's pursuit of diplomacy, but again cautioned that the Iranian record of deceit is long, deep and widespread. "Robust sanctions must be maintained in full as the U.S. tests again the commitment of Iran to engage in diplomacy," said Harris.

"Given Iran's track record of ignoring the UN Security Council and the IAEA demands on Iran, of delaying honest negotiations with the P5+1 group, which last met in April, the onus will be on Tehran to unequivocally desist from its assertive quest for nuclear-weapons capability."

Obama, hopeful for a breakthrough, declared before the UN General Assembly: "The roadblocks may prove to be too great, but I firmly believe the diplomatic path must be tested."

Harris agreed with President Obama that recent "conciliatory" words by Iranian leaders "have to be matched by actions that are transparent and verifiable." But Harris added that the talks "cannot be open-ended, as they have been to date – without resolution."

On the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Obama urged UN member-states, especially Arab states, to support the goal of a two-state solution. "Arab states – and those who have supported the Palestinians – must recognize that stability will only be served through a two-state solution with a secure Israel."

"The children of Israel have the right to live in a world where the nations assembled in this body fully recognize their country, and unequivocally reject those who fire rockets at their homes or incite others to hate them," said Obama.

"President Obama has rightly challenged the majority of member-states to once and for all end the UN's institutional biases against Israel," said Harris. "Even if six decades late, welcoming Israel, the Jewish state, as a full member of the international community can only advance the cause of peace."

SOURCE American Jewish Committee