President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have issued the following greetings to the Iranian people for Nowruz, Persian Year.
Hello! To everyone celebrating Nowruz—across the United States and in countries around the world—Nowruz Mubarak.
For thousands of years, this has been a time to gather with family and friends and welcome a new spring and a new year. Last week, my wife Michelle helped mark Nowruz here at the White House. It was a celebration of the vibrant cultures, food, music and friendship of our many diaspora communities who make extraordinary contributions every day here in the United States. We even created our own Haft Seen, representing our hopes for the new year.
This year, that includes our hopes for progress between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the international community, including the United States. So I want to take this opportunity once again to speak directly to the people and leaders of Iran. As you gather around the Nowruz table—from Tehran to Shiraz to Tabriz, from the coasts of the Caspian Sea to the Persian Gulf—you’re giving thanks for your blessings and looking ahead to the future.
This year, we have the best opportunity in decades to pursue a different future between our countries. Just over a year ago, we reached an initial understanding regarding Iran’s nuclear program. And both sides have kept our commitments. Iran has halted progress on its nuclear program and even rolled it back in some areas. The international community, including the United States, has provided Iran with some relief from sanctions. Now, our diplomats—and our scientists—are engaged in negotiations in the hopes of finding a comprehensive solution that resolves the world’s concerns with Iran’s nuclear program.
The days and weeks ahead will be critical. Our negotiations have made progress, but gaps remain. And there are people, in both our countries and beyond, who oppose a diplomatic resolution. My message to you—the people of Iran—is that, together, we have to speak up for the future we seek.
As I have said many times before, I believe that our countries should be able to resolve this issue peacefully, with diplomacy. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons, and President Rouhani has said that Iran would never develop a nuclear weapon. Together with the international community, the United States has said that Iran should have access to peaceful nuclear energy, consistent with Iran’s international obligations. So there is a way for Iran—if it is willing to take meaningful, verifiable steps—to assure the world that its nuclear program is, in fact, for peaceful purposes only.
In this sense, Iran’s leaders have a choice between two paths. If they cannot agree to a reasonable deal, they will keep Iran on the path it’s on today—a path that has isolated Iran, and the Iranian people, from so much of the world, caused so much hardship for Iranian families, and deprived so many young Iranians of the jobs and opportunities they deserve.
On the other hand, if Iran’s leaders can agree to a reasonable deal, it can lead to a better path—the path of greater opportunities for the Iranian people. More trade and ties with the world. More foreign investment and jobs, including for young Iranians. More cultural exchanges and chances for Iranian students to travel abroad. More partnerships in areas like science and technology and innovation. In other words, a nuclear deal now can help open the door to a brighter future for you—the Iranian people, who, as heirs to a great civilization, have so much to give to the world.
This is what’s at stake today. And this moment may not come again soon. I believe that our nations have an historic opportunity to resolve this issue peacefully—an opportunity we should not miss. As the poet Hafez wrote, “It is early spring. Try to be joyful in your heart. For many a flower will bloom while you will be in clay.”
For decades, our nations have been separated by mistrust and fear. Now it is early spring. We have a chance—a chance—to make progress that will benefit our countries, and the world, for many 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.
Thank you, and Nowruzetan Pirooz.
Secretary of State John Kerry
It is my distinct pleasure to join President Obama in wishing a joyous and healthy Nowruz to all who celebrate around the world, throughout Asia and the Caucasus, to the Persian Gulf region, and to everyone celebrating here in the United States.
For centuries millions of people have gathered each year to rejoice in the arrival of Spring and partake in traditions that mark the vernal equinox as the beginning of a new year.
As I noted in my Nowruz greeting last year, the United States and Iran have endured many harsh winters. But now, with the coming of Spring, we can all embrace this opportunity to move toward a better future.
It is my sincere hope that if Iran’s leaders make the right choices – the necessary choices – in the ongoing nuclear talks, that this new year and this new Spring will mark a better future both for the Iranian people and for the world.
This Nowruz, as you reflect on the preceding year and look forward to a new one, may the spirit of reconciliation mend past differences and the spirit of hope lead the way towards new growth and opportunity.
Statement by President Obama on U.S. Citizens Detained or Missing in Iran
The spirit of family is deeply woven into all of the rich cultural traditions of the Nowruz holiday. It is a time for reuniting and rejoicing with loved ones and sharing hopes for the new year. Today, as families across the world gather to mark this holiday, we remember those American families who are enduring painful separations from their loved ones who are imprisoned or went missing in Iran.
Saeed Abedini of Boise, Idaho has spent two and a half years detained in Iran on charges related to his religious beliefs. He must be returned to his wife and two young children, who needlessly continue to grow up without their father.
Amir Hekmati of Flint, Michigan has been imprisoned in Iran on false espionage charges for over three and a half years. His family, including his father who is gravely ill, has borne the pain of Amir's absence for far too long.
Jason Rezaian of Marin County, California, an Iranian government credentialed reporter for the Washington Post, has been unjustly held in Iran for nearly eight months on vague charges. It is especially painful that on a holiday centered on ridding one’s self of the difficulties of the past year, Jason’s mother and family will continue to carry the heavy burden of concern regarding Jason’s health and well-being into the new year.
And finally, we recently marked yet another anniversary since Robert Levinson went missing on Kish Island. His family has now endured the hardship of his disappearance for over eight years.
At this time of renewal, compassion, and understanding, I reiterate my commitment to bringing our citizens home and call on the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to immediately release Saeed Abedini, Amir Hekmati and Jason Rezaian and to work cooperatively with us to find Robert Levinson so that they all can be safely reunited with their families as soon as possible.
In honor of the familial spirit so strongly enshrined within this holiday and for the Abedini, Hekmati, Rezaian, and Levinson families, I hope this new spring is filled with joyous moments for us all with all of our loved ones by our sides.