Iran has chance to find
partner in US, White House says

Iran's new president has the chance to find a partner in the United States if he comes clean on the country's controversial nuclear program, a senior White House official said Sunday.


Moderate cleric Hassan Rowhani was elected as new head of state Friday, ending eight years of a conservative grip on the top office marked by tension with the West over Tehran's atomic drive.


"If he is interested in... mending Iran's relations with the rest of the world, there's an opportunity to do that," White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough told CBS News's "Face the Nation."


"If he lives up to his obligations under the UN Security Council resolution to come clean on this illicit nuclear program, he will find a partner in us, and there will be an opportunity for that."


The United States, Israel and the West suspect Iran's nuclear program is aimed at developing weapons, while Iran insists it is for peaceful purposes such as generating energy.


McDonough said if Rowhani, a former nuclear negotiator who has promised a more constructive approach to talks, lives up to Iran's obligations, then "there's a great opportunity for Iran, and the people of that storied country, to have the kind of future that they would, I think, justifiably want."


On Saturday the White House said it was prepared to engage Iran "directly" over its disputed nuclear program in order to reach a "diplomatic solution that will fully address the international community's concerns."


It also said Iran's election was held amid lack of transparency, censorship of the media, the Internet and text messages, and "an intimidating security environment that limited freedom of expression and assembly."


McDonough referenced those "difficult circumstances" Sunday, adding: "I think we should all be quite proud of the way that Iranians turned out to vote and to express their democratic views and aspirations."


Rowhani, who succeeds Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, on Sunday hailed his own win as a victory over "extremism."

If he is interested in... mending Iran's relations with the rest of the world, there's an opportunity to do that.