Addressing reporters aboard Air Force One on a flight to New York for the U.N. General Assembly session, Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, responded to a question about Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu comparing Iran to North Korea on the risk of dealing diplomatically over their nuclear efforts.
"Well, look, the comparison is simply that they are two nations that have not abided by international non-proliferation norms," Rhodes said, a White House transcript reported. "But the fact of the matter is North Korea already has a nuclear weapon. They acquired one, tested one in the beginning of 2006. And Iran does not yet have a nuclear weapon."
Rhodes said this is why steps need to be taken "to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon" so the international community does not face the same "type of situation that we have in North Korea where you're seeking to denuclearize a country that has already crossed that threshold."
Rhodes said he thought the comparison is that the international community is dealing with the issue before Iran similarly crosses the threshold.
"That's why we've put in place a sanctions regime," he said. "That's why we've also held open the door to a diplomatic resolution so that we can achieve a resolution to this issue that prevents Iran from getting a nuclear weapon while allowing them access to peaceful nuclear power consistent with the nonproliferation obligations."
Rhodes also said what both the North Korean and Iranian program "reinforce is the need for the international community to clearly enforce nonproliferation norms so that countries do not destabilize global security through the pursuit of these weapons."
In response to other questions, Rhodes said no meeting has been scheduled between President Barack Obama and his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani in New York.
"As you heard us say repeatedly, we are open to engagement with the Iranian government at a variety of levels provided that they will follow through on their commitments to address the international community's concerns over their nuclear program," Rhodes said.
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