Sherman: Iran should put well being of people first

If Iran's government put the well being of its citizens before its nuclear program, Iranians would be much better off, a high-ranking State Department official said on Wednesday.

Wendy Sherman, the State Department's under secretary for political affairs, testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the administration's approach to Iran's nuclear ambitions, international terrorist support and destabilizing regional activities. The U.S. is engaged in a dual-track policy that imposes sanctions on Iran for its failure to meet international nuclear obligations while also seeking diplomacy.

While the U.S. and the other members of the P5+1 have worked hard for diplomatic solutions in regards to Iran's nuclear program, Iran has responded with disappointing counterproposals.

"Iranians deserve better," Sherman said. "Their government has chosen to isolate them, stunt their economic growth, repress their ability to speak freely, and connect the people of Iran with the most heinous acts of terrorism and regional adventurism. Iran's government can choose to end these policies at any time and put their people's well being first."

President Obama has said that diplomacy between Iran and the U.S. will require both countries to put decades of mistrust behind them.

"As the President said, we have no illusions about the difficulty of overcoming decades of mistrust," Sherman said. "It will take a serious and sustained effort to resolve the many differences between Iran and the United States. We do not expect to always agree, but rather for Iran to be an honest and responsible member of the international community, a community where members honor their commitments and keep their word or pay the price."

Sherman said the State Department would keep working on its dual-track plan to improve diplomacy with Iran in an effort to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

"We share Congress' concern about Iran and want to continue our hand in hand efforts to ensure that Iran does not continue on a path that threatens the peace and stability of the region and tramples the freedoms of its citizens," Sherman said. "We welcome your ideas on how we can sustain and expand our efforts."