"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 materiel assistance to armed groups in Iraq and Afghanistan, to the Palestinian group Hamas, and to Lebanese Hezbollah. Throughout 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 any discussion of potential U.S. military action against Iranian nuclear facilities or efforts to try to change Iran's regime. The Administration 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. Without obtaining agreement from Iran to implement a compromise outlined on October 1, 2009, during 2010 the Administration worked to expand international economic sanctions against Iran. Major sanctions were imposed on Iran by U.N. Security Council (Resolution 1929), as well as related 'national measures' by the European Union, Japan, South Korea, and other countries. Additional measures designed to compel 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 were intended to support diplomacy with Iran to limit its nuclear program. Iran attended December 6-7, 2010, talks in Geneva with the six powers negotiating with Iran, but no substantive progress was reported."
CRS Report for Congress, RL32048