August 30, 2008
A senior advisor to Barack Obama says the Democratic nominee would engage Iran on its nuclear work early next year if elected president.
“He (Obama) is saying that as soon as he takes office that we have to have a very serious set of negotiations with the Iranians in which we in effect present them with a choice,” said former US national security adviser Tony Lake, who now serves the Obama campaign, on Thursday.
Iran, a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), says it is constructing nuclear power plants as its growing population suffers from electricity shortage. The US, however, accuses the country of having plans to develop nuclear weapons.
This is while the UN nuclear watchdog has confirmed that Tehran enriches uranium-235 to a level of 3.7 percent – a rate consistent with the construction of a power plant. Nuclear arms production requires an enrichment level of above 90 percent.
The Bush administration, claiming to be committed to diplomacy to resolve the standoff, has sought to persuade Iran to abandon its uranium enrichment activities through a carrot-and-stick approach of incentives and sanctions, as well as threats of launching strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities.
Under US pressure, the UN Security Council has so far imposed three rounds of sanctions against Iran, demanding the country to halt its enrichment program.
Tehran says while it is fully committed to dialogue to protect its right to the peaceful application of nuclear technology, it will not accept Western demands.
Lake said Tehran should be given a sharper choice between the ‘consequences’ of continuing its nuclear program and the benefits of abandoning it.
“This is an extremely important issue, an extremely serious issue and an extremely urgent issue,” Lake continued.
Despite Obama’s promise of bringing ‘change’ to the White House, Lake’s remarks suggest the Democratic candidate has adopted an approach of sanctions which echoes eight years of policies pursued by the incumbent US President, George W. Bush.