Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses [February 16, 2010]   [open pdf - 692KB]

"The Obama Administration has not changed the Bush Administration's characterization of Iran as a 'profound 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. However, the Obama Administration has formulated approaches to achieve those goals that differ from those of its predecessor by expanding direct diplomatic engagement with Iran's government and by downplaying discussion of potential U.S. military action against Iranian nuclear facilities. With the nuclear issue unresolved, the domestic unrest in Iran that has burgeoned since alleged wide scale fraud was committed in Iran's June 12, 2009, presidential election has presented the Administration with a potential choice of continuing the engagement or backing the opposition 'Green movement.' In December 2009, Administration statements shifted toward greater public support of the Green movement, but Administration officials appear to believe that the opposition's prospects are enhanced by a low U.S. public profile on the unrest. Congressional resolutions and legislation since mid-2009 show growing congressional attention to the plight of Iran's opposition and support for steps to enhance the opposition's prospects. Iran's neighbors continue to engage the regime in normal trade and diplomatic exchange, although it is widely believed that many regional leaders, particularly the Persian Gulf states, are hoping for a regime collapse. At the same time, the Administration does not want to forego its diplomatic options to blunt Iran's nuclear progress and says it remains open to a nuclear deal if Iran fully accepts a framework Iran tentatively agreed to in multilateral talks on October 1, 2009."

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CRS Report for Congress, RL32048
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