Sherman: Iran continues to value nuclear program over its people

Iran is continuing to value the development of weapons of mass destruction over helping its people, U.S. Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman said on Tuesday.

Sherman made the remarks during her testimony before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs in Washington. She said that the U.S. is determined to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and is using a dual-track approach of pressure and engagement to achieve this end. Sherman said that Iran continues to value weapons above people.

"In sum, what we see is that the Iranian regime's misplaced priorities, corruption and mismanagement of their government are detrimentally affecting the Iranian people," Sherman said. "Instead of meeting its people's needs, the regime has chosen to spend enormous amounts of its money and resources to support the Assad regime as well as its militant proxies around the world, and to pursue the development of weapons of mass destruction. Instead of investing in its people, Iran continues to restrain their vast potential through censorship, oppression, and severe limitations on their social, political and even academic freedoms."

Iran's lack of cooperation on nuclear matters resulted in numerous sanctions against the country which are having a major impact in Iran. Iran's economy is projected to contract in 2013 after a growth of seven percent six years ago. Sherman said Iran's economy is in a free-fall and one of the only ways to provide its people with relief is to fulfill its international obligations.

"The administration will continue to hold the Iranian government accountable for its actions and increase pressure on the regime until it chooses to become a responsible member of the international community and give the Iranian people the opportunities they deserve," Sherman said.

Sherman noted that the U.S. remains committed to making sure legitimate, humanitarian trade can continue for the benefit of Iran's people.