"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 an alternative vision of closer integration with and acceptance by the West. To try to convince Iranian leaders of peaceful U.S. intent, 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 emerged following Iran's June 12, 2009, presidential election. Iran's refusal to accept the details of an October 1, 2009, tentative agreement to lessen concerns about its nuclear intentions caused the Administration to shift toward building multilateral support for additional economic sanctions against Iran. The Administration efforts bore fruit throughout the summer of 2010 with the adoption of new sanctions by the U.N. Security Council (Resolution 1929), the European Union, Japan, South Korea, and other countries, using much of the authorities of Resolution 1929. Additional measures designed to convince foreign firms to exit the Iranian market were contained in U.S. legislation passed in June 2010 (the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act, P.L. 111-195). Still, the Administration and its partners assert that these sanctions are intended to pave the way for successful diplomacy with Iran to limit its nuclear program. As of October 2010, Iran has indicated a willingness to return to substantive talks with the international community, although it has not advanced any new proposals to allay international concerns about its nuclear program."
CRS Report for Congress, RL32048