The US government is committed to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, a top White House official said as he warned Tehran against pursuing any such ambition.
"President (Barack) Obama has long understood the regional and international consequences of Iran becoming a nuclear weapons’state... That is why we are committed to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons," National Security Advisor Tom Donilon said.
"From his first days in office, he has made clear to Iran that it has a choice: it can act to restore the confidence of the international community in the purposes of its nuclear programme by fully complying with the IAEA and UN Security Council resolutions, or it can continue to shirk its international obligations, which will only increase its isolation and the consequences for the regime," he said in his address to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
"There is no escaping or evading that choice."
The National Security Advisor said Iran is facing sanctions that are far more comprehensive than ever before.
And "as a result it finds it hard to do business with any reputable bank internationally; to conduct transactions in Euros or dollars; to acquire insurance for its shipping; to gain new capital investment or technology infusions in its antiquated oil and natural gas infrastructure — and it has found in that critical sector, alone, close to $60 billion in projects have been put on hold or discontinued."
Other sectors are clearly being affected as well, Donilon said.
Leading multinational corporations understand the risk of doing business with Iran, and are choosing to no longer do so, he claimed. Some of these companies are: Shell, Toyota, Kia, Repsol, Deutsche Bank, UBS and Credit Suisse.
"The impact is real," he noted, adding that unless Iran complies with its obligations under the NPT and all relevant UN Security Council resolutions, the US will continue to ratchet up the pressure.
"Like all NPT Parties, Iran has the right to peaceful nuclear energy. But it also has a responsibility to fulfill its obligations. There is no alternative to doing so.
"That is why -- even with all the events unfolding in the Middle East -- we remain focused on ensuring that Iran does not acquire nuclear weapons," he said.
Donilon said the Iranian regime's nuclear programme is part of a larger pattern of destabilising activities throughout the region.
"So make no mistake, we have no illusions about the Iranian regime’s regional ambitions. We know that they will try to exploit this period of tumult and will remain vigilant. But we must also remember that Iran has many weaknesses and vulnerabilities," he said.
Iran's model, like al Qaeda’s, lacks a vision relevant, he said. "It is a model that could not be more out of step with the sentiments of the Arab Spring."
Donilon said the Iranian model is "corrupt, mismanaged and isolated economy" that offers younger generation "little" hope for a better future.
It is an economy increasingly working for the security services like the IRGC and elites, and not for the people of Iran, the NSA said.
"The denial of the basic human rights of freedom of expression – the very liberties people across the Middle East are prepared to risk their lives to claim," he said.
The official said Iranian leaders' attempts to declare themselves the inspiration for these demonstrators are belied by their clear hypocrisy - demanding justice for others while crushing their own people's demands.
"Our observation is that since the elections in 2009, the regime has been heavily focused internally — on silencing dissent and preserving itself. And as you might expect, we now see fissures developing among the ruling class—a dispute that has nothing to do with meeting the needs and aspirations of the Iranian people."
Donilon said: "It also reflects a fundamental question: whether Iran has the confidence to engage with the outside world—a prospect that has been offered and that is in the overwhelming interest of its people."
Externally, Iran's destabilising activities are backfiring by uniting its neighbours in the Gulf, he said.
The official said door to diplomacy remains open to Iran. "But that diplomacy must be meaningful and not a tactical attempt to ward off further sanctions. These choices remain available to the Iranian government."
"In the meantime, America and our partners will keep the pressure on by continuing our current sanctions efforts and seeking new lines of activity to target," Donilon said.
The US will continue the hard work of building a regional security architecture, maintaining a strong military presence, equipping its friends with early warning and missile defence systems—including the phased, adaptive approach, he added.