President Barack Obama hinted that he might be prepared to establish a new U.S. embassy in Tehran ” if we can get a deal on making sure that Iran does not have a nuclear weapon,” and the deal led to warmer relations with the Iranian regime. Obama’s remarks were published Monday in an interview with National Public Radio host Steve Inskeep. Essentially, the U.S. would be prepared to tolerate and legitimize the autocratic rule of the Iranian regime, as long as it agreed not to become a nuclear threat.
Obama referred back to a remark he made during his first presidential campaign in 2007-a remark his campaign spent a great deal of effort denying later-that he would agree to meet with enemy leaders “without preconditions.” His foreign policy today, Obama said, was what he had promised earlier.
“You know, I was asked very early in my presidential race back in 2007, would I meet with these various rogue regimes? And what I said then remains true: If I thought it advances American interests, yes; I believe in diplomacy, I believe in dialogue, I believe in engagement.” A nuclear deal with Iran, he said, was still achievable.
In 2009, Obama was widely criticized by the Iranian opposition and by human rights activists for failing to support the Green Revolution, which nearly toppled the regime. Obama’s strategy was to preserve the regime in the hope of striking a grand bargain on the nuclear issue and others. In the interim, the regime has consolidated and expanded its power and nuclear program.
In the interview, Obama also took credit for sanctions against Iran, though he actually resisted them for years. He claimed to have “mobilized the international community at the start of my presidency” against Iran, though in reality America’s allies in Europe were frustrated at Obama’s lack of leadership. And he claimed that “when I came into office, the world was divided and Iran was in the driver’s seat,” though the UN Security Council had already passed near-unanimous resolutions against Iran.