WASHINGTON, Oct. 21 (UPI) -- A former top aide to President Obama said Sunday the United States now held the upper hand in relations with Iran.
Chicago Mayor and former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said world opinion has changed since Obama took office and isolated Iran on the issue of its controversial nuclear program.
"Three and a half years ago, the world was criticizing us on Iran," Emmanuel said on ABC's "This Week." "Today, the world is criticizing Iran on its attempt to acquire nuclear weapons. That's a direct change."
Emanuel declined direct comment on a New York Times report the Obama administration was open to direct talks with Tehran; however, he opined the Iranian government now found itself in a position where its economy was hamstrung by international sanctions and its international allies were few and far between.
"The tables have been turned," Emanuel said. "And the result of that is because of the steady leadership and the course the president has done in building a coalition and forcing now a set of sanctions that Europe would never have considered three and a half years ago."
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., dismissed the idea Obama was showing strong leadership on Iran. He reiterated the GOP's stance the president was conducting a hands-off policy that was actually strengthening Iranian influence in the Middle East and accelerating its nuclear program.
"So much of our relationship with Iran under this president was defined early in his administration when folks (in Iran) took to the streets in that Green Revolution, and the president took his hands off and said he wasn't going to get engaged or involved," said Rubio. "That unfortunately, set a tone where now Iran thinks they can go much faster and much harder than they used to think they could go, and today they are closer than they've ever been to a nuclear capability."
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