US President Barack Obama acknowledges that Iran would become a “very successful regional power” if a long-term nuclear agreement is reached.
“They have got a chance to get right with the world,” Obama said in an interview with NPR News, which was taped at the White House on Dec. 18 and aired on Monday.
More than a year ago, Iran agreed to an interim agreement to suspend 20-percent uranium enrichment in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions pending on a long-term deal.
Despite progress in the talks, Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council — China, Russia, Britain, France, and the United States — plus Germany failed to clinch a final deal by a Nov. 24 deadline. The talks have now been extended until July 1, 2015.
Tehran maintains that the issue of sanctions, not the level of uranium enrichment, is the main stumbling block to reaching a comprehensive deal.
In the interview, Obama said Iran should seize the chance of a long-term deal that could lift the sanctions.
“Because if they do, there’s incredible talent and resources and sophistication inside of Iran and it would be a very successful regional power that was also abiding by international norms and international rules – and that would be good for everybody,” the US president said.
Obama was asked whether his moves earlier this month to restore relations with Cuba might lead to similar steps with Iran, including opening an embassy in Tehran. He said Iran and Cuba were not comparable, but added, “I never say never.”
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has released a new report, confirming Iran’s commitment to the interim deal it signed with the P5+1 group in 2013.