Obama Aide: Iran Prefers Defiance and Secrecy to Transparency and Peace

Dennis Ross says that Iran has been 'surprised' by magnitude of U.S. sanction and can no longer rely on international support.

Iran prefers defiance and secrecy to transparency and peace, United States President's special assistant Dennis Ross said on Monday.

Ross, who served as a special Middle East coordinator under former U.S. President Bill Clinton, spoke to attendees of the AIPAC National Summit in Hollywood, Florida.

"The U.S. government is building leverage through creative and persistent diplomacy to change the behavior of a government insistent on threatening its neighbors, supporting terrorism, and pursuing a nuclear program in violation of its international obligations," said Ross.

An Iranian man shouts anti-U.S. and anti-Israel slogans during Friday prayers in Tehran

Ross said that over the past two years Iran has preferred "defiance and secrecy to transparency and peace." Ross referred to Iran's lack of cooperation with inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

In June, Iran barred two IAEA experts from entering the country, accusing them of giving "false information" about its nuclear program. The decision was criticized by IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano, who urged Iran to stop obstructing UN investigation of the country's nuclear plan.

Ross said that Iran has been surprised by the magnitude of U.S. sanctions and the depth of support for them in the international community. "They can no longer rely on those in the international community they thought would block such measures on their behalf."

Ross expressed hope that the international pressure will lead to a change in the behavior of Iran's regime. "The door for diplomacy is still open and we certainly seek a peaceful resolution to our conflict with Iran."

Ross spoke a day before Iran began loading fuel into the core of its Bushehr nuclear reactor, moving closer to the start-up of its first atomic plant.

He warned the U.S. would not tolerate further Iranian defiance and encouraged Iran's leaders to "listen carefully to President Obama who has said many times, 'we are determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.'"