U.S. President-elect Obama was asked at Friday's news conference what approach he might take with Tehran, given the dispute between the United States and Iran over its nuclear program. Obama said he will move deliberately on how to respond to Iran and what the response might be, but that he won't do it in a "knee-jerk fashion."
Obama declared: "I am not the president and I won't be until Jan. 20."
However, he said that Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons was "unacceptable" and he would "respond appropriately" to a congratulatory letter from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Obama also said Tehran must stop supporting "terrorist organizations."
The Democratic president-elect confirmed that he had been sent a letter from Ahmadinejad following his historic victory over Republican John McCain. "I am aware that the letter was sent," Obama said in response to the only question of the press conference about foreign policy. "I will be reviewing the letter from President Ahmadinejad and we will respond appropriately."
Asked whether he would send low-level envoys to US foes such as Iran, Syria, Venezuela, and Cuba to see if presidential-level talks could be "productive," Obama responded by condemning Iran's nuclear program. "Let me repeat and state what I stated during the course of the campaign," he said. "Iran's development of a nuclear weapon I believe is unacceptable. We have to mount an international effort to prevent that from happening."
Obama added that "Iran's support of terrorist organizations, I think, is something that has to cease."