"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 offered 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, 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. […] Others in and outside the 112th Congress believe that the U.S. focus should remain on pressing Iran economically and diplomatically. Sanctions, by some accounts, have slowed Iran's nuclear program directly and may be contributing to a widening schism between Iran's Supreme Leader and its President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad but have not evidently caused Iran to fundamentally rethink its nuclear negotiating position. The apparent slowing of Iran's nuclear program has, at least temporarily, quieted discussion in Israeli and U.S. expert circles about using military action to set Iran's nuclear program back. The Administration has stepped up arms sales to regional states that share the U.S. suspicions of Iran's intentions."
CRS Report for Congress, RL32048