President Obama on Thursday encouraged Iranian leaders to take “the best opportunity in decades” to improve ties with the United States and strike an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program.
Obama’s comments came in a message marking the Persian New Year celebration of Nowruz as nuclear talks between the U.S., Iran and other world powers enter a critical stretch.
The president said nuclear talks have made progress but that “gaps remain” and that “Iran’s leaders have a choice between two paths.”
Reaching an agreement would open up Iran’s economy, which has been crippled by international sanctions, to increased trade and investment.
“A nuclear deal now can help open the door for you, the Iranian people,” Obama said.
But failing will keep Iran “on the path it’s on today,” according to Obama, warning of isolation and economic hardship for the country.
“This moment may not come again soon,” he said. “I believe that our nations have an historic opportunity to resolve this issue peacefully — an opportunity we should not miss.”
Obama tied the chance at a deal to Nowruz, a holiday that celebrates the spring.
“For decades, our nations have been separated by mistrust and fear,” Obama said. “Now it is early spring. We have a chance to make progress that will benefit our countries and the world for years to come.”
“ Now it is up to all of us, Iranians and Americans, to seize this moment and the possibilities that can bloom in this new season.”
The White House held a Nowruz celebration last week.