- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 20, 2014

President Obama marked the Persian New Year Thursday by telling Iranians that a verifiable agreement to scale back their nation’s suspected nuclear weapons program would put them on a “new path” to prosperity.

In a recorded video message, Mr. Obama observed the holiday of Nowruz with a call for Iranians to meet their international obligations.

“A comprehensive agreement on the nuclear issue — and an Iran that upholds universal rights, at home and abroad — would help move Iran along the new path that so many Iranians seek,” Mr. Obama said. “There is a chance to reach an agreement if Iran takes meaningful and verifiable steps to assure the world that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.”

In talks this week in Vienna, Iran tangled with the U.S. and other world powers over the future of a planned Iranian nuclear reactor with the potential to develop weapons-grade plutonium. The U.S. negotiators warned that “hard work” lies ahead to surmount differences when the sides meet again on April 7.

The parties reached an interim agreement last year that allowed for an easing of economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for some concessions on its nuclear program. Iran has insisted its nuclear development is only for peaceful purposes.

Mr. Obama expressed the hope that Iranian leaders will sign a meaningful accord allowing the country to “open up new possibilities” for its citizens.

“If Iran seizes this moment, this Nowruz could mark not just the beginning of a new year, but a new chapter in the history of Iran and its role in the world — including a better relationship with the United States and the American people, rooted in mutual interest and mutual respect,” Mr. Obama said.

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