Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses [May 19, 2009]   [open pdf - 703KB]

"President Obama has said his Administration shares the goals of the previous Administration on Iran, but the Obama Administration is formulating strategies and approaches to achieve those goals that differ from those of its predecessor. According to President Obama, the Administration intends to expand direct diplomatic engagement with Iran. This effort was put in practice with a message to the Iranian people by President Obama marking Persian New Year (Nowruz), March 21, 2009, and a statement on April 8, 2009 that the United States would regularly attend multilateral meetings with Iran on its nuclear program. The Administration also has deemphasized potential U.S. military action, although without ruling that out completely, and it is not emphasizing efforts to promote democracy in Iran. Yet, there is debate among experts over whether these shifts will yield clear results. The policy decisions come as Iran enters its run-up to June 12, 2009 presidential elections, in which some prominent reformists, including Mir Hossein Musavi, are candidates. This increases the possibility the election might produce a somewhat more moderate government in Iran. The Bush Administration characterized Iran as a 'profound threat to U.S. national security interests,' a perception generated primarily by Iran's nuclear program and its military assistance to armed groups in Iraq and Afghanistan, to the Palestinian group Hamas, and to Lebanese Hezbollah. The U.S. approach was to try to prevent a nuclear breakout by Iran by applying multilateral economic pressure on Iran while also offering it potential cooperation should it comply with the international demands to suspend its enrichment of uranium."

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CRS Report for Congress, RL32048
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