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US Senators Urge Obama to Take Tough Line on Iran

  • Reuters

Iranian President Hasan Rouhani speaks at his first press conference since taking office at the presidency compound in Tehran, Aug. 6, 2013.

Iranian President Hasan Rouhani speaks at his first press conference since taking office at the presidency compound in Tehran, Aug. 6, 2013.

Two senior U.S. senators on Monday urged President Barack Obama to take a tough line against Iran in his speech to the U.N. General Assembly this week.

Democrat Robert Menendez and Republican Lindsey Graham sent a letter to Obama urging him to restate the U.S. goal of not permitting Iran to achieve nuclear weapons capability and demanding verifiable action from Tehran in order to permit the possibility of a diplomatic accord.

“Like you, we viewed the election of [Iranian President] Hassan Rouhani as an indicator of discontent amongst the Iranian people and we have taken note of recent diplomatic overtures by Iran. However, whatever nice words we may hear from Mr. Rouhani, it is Iranian action that matters,” Menendez and Graham said.

Menendez is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Graham is an influential Senate voice on international issues.

Recent Overtures from Iran

September 4: President Hassan Rouhani tweets “As the sun is about to set here in Tehran I wish all Jews, especially Iranian Jews, a blessed Rosh Hashanah.”

September 18: Iran releases 11 prominent political prisoners, including human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh.

September 18: In an NBC interview, Rouhani says Iran would under no circumstances seek any weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons.

September 20: Rouhani writes an opinion piece in The Washington Post advocating the use of constructive dialogue to solve global problems.
Obama's administration has been crafting a response to favorable gestures toward the United States from Rouhani, who travels to New York for his debut address at the United Nations this week amid talk he may have a face-to-face meeting with Obama.

Rouhani is expected to pursue a charm offensive in New York to set the right tone for further nuclear talks with world powers, which he hopes will bring relief from sanctions imposed over suspicions Tehran intends to develop nuclear weapons capability. Iran says the program is purely peaceful.

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