Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: Gets Holiday Greeting From Obama, But It Won't Ease Tensions

The over Iran’s nuclear program continues as hopes of a resolution wane. President Obama has been attempting to tackle the growing suspicion surrounding Iran’s nuclear program since he came to office in 2009. On Monday, he addressed the Iranian nuclear program again in a televised broadcast for the Persian New Year, Nowruz. The president pleaded with “the people and leaders” of Iran to prove the true intentions of it’s nuclear program and offered a new beginning between the two countries if it could “meet its international obligation.” Obama repeated how “the United States prefers to resolve this matter peacefully, diplomatically,” and “is ready to reach such a solution.” 

The president acknowledged that a resolution “will be no easy task” due to the abiding tension between the two states, but that continued efforts by the Iranian government to acquire a nuclear weapon would further isolate the country. Obama attempted to appeal to the people of Iran by expressing “there’s no good reason for Iranians to be denied the opportunities enjoyed by people in other countries, just as Iranians deserve the same freedoms and rights as people everywhere.” 

Obama’s speech signaled the United States is ready to “move beyond tension” and work toward a solution to Iran’s nuclear program, adding he hopes talks can bring “a new day between our nations that bears the fruit of friendship and peace.” Even though the President prefers diplomacy, Obama has warned in the past that military action may be necessary. Earlier this week Obama revealed in a TV interview that “a nuclear Iran is a “red line” and all options remain on the table to stop it.” Obama made similar statements in the lead up to the 2012 presidential election regarding Iran’s threat to close the Strait of Hormuz.    

Obama’s gesture of peace and friendship is unlikely to sway the often stubborn and self-righteous President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Iran has continuously defied requests by the international community to end their nuclear program claiming the country is not seeking nuclear weapons, but is attempting to procure nuclear energy for civilian use.. In fact, it seems that threats of sanctions and isolation only embolden Ahmadinejad. On January 22, after the West enacted an oil embargo to protest Iran’s nuclear program, Ahmadinejad scoffed by saying, "Don't buy our oil? To hell with you."

Critics are likely to view Obama’s message to Iran as weak, arguing the “red lines” the president frequently speaks of are merely empty threats. “A number of the red lines of the past have come and gone,” said Ray Takeyh of the Council on Foreign Relations, with no reaction from the White House. Critics are likely correct, given that Obama is a Noble Peace Prize recipient, and thus, shouldn't expect a military response to Iran from the Obama administration.