`Sanctions pushed Iran to change rhetoric on nuclear issue`
Washington: There is a recent change in Iranian rhetoric on nuclear weapons issue mainly due to the US-led tough international sanctions on the country that has been pinching its economy, the White House said on Thursday.
"Now, there have been a lot of very interesting things said out of Tehran and the new government, and encouraging things, but actions are more important than words," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters.
"One of the reasons why we`re seeing this change in rhetoric, we believe, is because of the international consensus that has been established, with the (US) President`s leadership, behind the proposition that Iran must give up its nuclear weapons programme," he said in response to a question.
"That consensus has been backed with the most severe sanctions regime in history. That sanctions regime has inflicted enormous harm on the Iranian economy. The new (Iranian) President has made clear that he wants to or has said that he wants to address that problem," Carney said.
"To do that, he needs to demonstrate that he`s serious about resolving this conflict with the international community," he said.
Noting that the Presidents of the US and Iran have exchanged letters of late, Carney said it has long been the position of US President Barack Obama, since he was a candidate.
"This was a matter of debate during the Democratic primaries in 2008 as well as during the general election, that he would, as president, be willing to have bilateral negotiations with the Iranians provided that the Iranians were serious about addressing the international community`s insistence that they give up their nuclear weapons programmes," Carney said.
"That is the position that we hold today," he said.
"The first words he uttered after he took the oath of office included this sentence -- `he` being the President: To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist," Carney said quoting from the previous statement of the US President.
Responding to a question, Carney said there`s no question that the new Iranian government has been taking a different approach in the things that it has said about a lot of issues.
"It has taken some actions that suggest a new approach. I don`t want to diminish that. That`s obviously welcome," he said.
"We are interested in testing the seriousness of those assertions, the stated desire by the new government to improve its relationships with the international community, knowing that the only way to do that is to deal with this problem," Carney said.
"That was a reference, in his inaugural address, to his position, stated during the campaign and throughout his presidency, that he`d be willing to have direct conversations and negotiations with the Iranians provided that the Iranians were serious about ridding themselves of their nuclear weapons programme and honouring the international commitment that they`ve made," he said.
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