Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses [August 6, 2009]   [open pdf - 656KB]

"President Obama has said his Administration shares the goals of the previous Administration to contain Iran's strategic capabilities and regional influence, but the Obama Administration has formulated approaches to achieve those goals that differ from those of its predecessor--in particular through expanded direct diplomatic engagement with Iran. [...] The Administration's Iran policy is in flux because of the Iranian crackdown against protesters who alleged vast fraud in the June 12, 2009 presidential election, in which incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared the winner. [...] President Obama has criticized Iran's use of violence against protesters, but some in the Administration want to take advantage of Iran's internal weakness to obtain a compromise that curbs Iran's nuclear program. The Administration has indicated that, if Iran refuses to return to the nuclear bargaining table by September 2009 in earnest, it would return to working with allies to resume sanctioning and pressuring Iran. Bills in the 111th Congress, such as H.R. 2194 and S. 908, would tighten U.S. sanctions on Iran by amending the Iran Sanctions Act to penalize sales to Iran of gasoline. Some of the measures contained in these bills have begun to advance as a consequence of the election-related violence.[...] The Obama Administration has not changed the previous 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."

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CRS Report for Congress, RL32048
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