This Congressional Research Service (CRS) report discusses U.S. concerns and policy responses to Iran. "The Obama Administration views Iran as a major threat to U.S. national security interests, a perception generated not only by Iran's nuclear program but also by its military assistance to armed groups in Iraq and Afghanistan, to the Palestinian group Hamas, and to Lebanese Hezbollah. Particularly in its first year, the Obama Administration altered the previous U.S. approach by offering Iran's leaders consistent and sustained engagement with the potential for closer integration with and acceptance by the West. To try to convince Iranian leaders of peaceful U.S. intent and respect for Iran's history and stature in the region, the Obama Administration downplayed discussion of potential U.S. military action against Iranian nuclear facilities and repeatedly insisted that it did not seek to change Iran's regime. It held to this position even at the height of the protests by the domestic opposition 'Green movement' that took place for the six months following Iran's June 12, 2009, presidential election but largely ceased in 2010. [...] Congressional resolutions and legislation since mid-2009 show growing congressional support for steps to enhance the opposition's prospects, or, at the very least, to sharply increase international criticism of Iran's human rights practices. Some observers believe that initiatives in the 112th Congress are likely to focus on providing additional help to those in Iran who want to change the regime. However, Obama Administration officials say they believe that the opposition's prospects are enhanced by a muting of U.S. public support for the opposition."
CRS Report for Congress, RL32048