US President Barack Obama said in a television interview broadcast Sunday that diplomacy used to tackle the issue of Syria’s chemical weapons is a potential model for negotiations on Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
Obama said in the interview on ABC’s “This Week” that Tehran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon is “a far larger issue for us” than the use of chemical weapons in Syria.
The interview was reportedly recorded on Friday, before the US and Russia announced an agreement to inventory Syria’s chemical weapons program and seize its components on Saturday.
The US president said that he had exchanged letters with new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, but declined to give any details.
“They shouldn’t draw a lesson that we haven’t struck, to think we won’t strike Iran,” Obama told ABC. “On the other hand, what they should draw from this lesson is that there is the potential of resolving these issues diplomatically,” he added.
Iran has repeatedly denied seeking nuclear weapons but the United States officials assume that the Iranian government is working toward developing an atomic weapons program.
Obama and Rouhani are expected to speak at the UN General Assembly next week on the same day, Reuters reported on Sunday.
In the interview, Obama rejected Russian President Vladimir Putin’s claim that Syrian rebels were responsible for an August 21 chemical gas attack, but welcomed his role in the international effort to solve the Syrian crisis.