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CRS-Iran, October 5, 2009

CRS-Iran, October 5, 2009

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Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses
Dr. Kenneth Katzman Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs October 5, 2009

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov RL32048

CRS Report for Congress
Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress

Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses

Summary
President Obama has said his Administration shares the goals of previous Administrations to contain Iran’s strategic capabilities and regional influence. The Administration has not changed the previous Admi
Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses
Dr. Kenneth Katzman Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs October 5, 2009

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov RL32048

CRS Report for Congress
Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress

Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses

Summary
President Obama has said his Administration shares the goals of previous Administrations to contain Iran’s strategic capabilities and regional influence. The Administration has not changed the previous Admi

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Published by: Confederation of Iranian students on Oct 23, 2011
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CRS Report for Congress
Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress
Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses
Kenneth Katzman
Specialist in Middle Eastern AffairsOctober 5, 2009
Congressional Research Service
7-5700www.crs.govRL32048
 
Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy ResponsesCongressional Research Service
Summary
President Obama has said his Administration shares the goals of previous Administrations tocontain Iran’s strategic capabilities and regional influence. The Administration has not changedthe previous Administrations characterization of Iran as a “profound threat to U.S. nationalsecurity interests,” a perception generated not only by Iran’s nuclear program but also by itsmilitary assistance to armed groups in Iraq and Afghanistan, to the Palestinian group Hamas, andto Lebanese Hezbollah. The Obama Administration formulated approaches to achieve those goalsthat differ from those of its predecessor—in particular through expanded direct diplomaticengagement with Iran and, prior to Iran’s disputed June 12, 2009, presidential elections, put thisoutreach into practice with messages to the Iranian people by President Obama, and throughinvitations to and contact with Iranian diplomats at multilateral meetings. Attempting to convinceIran that the Administration is not hostile to Iran, the Administration also downplayed BushAdministration policies to add international sanctions on Iran, to fund civil society activists there,and to openly discuss potential U.S. military action against Iranian nuclear facilities.The Administration’s Iran policy has evolved somewhat because of the Iranian crackdown againstprotesters who alleged vast fraud in the June 12, 2009, presidential election, in which incumbentPresident Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared the winner. The unrest has represented the mostserious challenge, to date, to the regime’s authority, although Iran’s Supreme Leader appears to besucceeding in quelling the public outcry and intra-regime tension as of September 2009. PresidentObama has continued to back engagement with Iran, in part by agreeing to U.S. attendance at anOctober 1, 2009, multilateral meeting with Iran. That meeting resulted in an agreement for theInternational Atomic Energy Agency to inspect a newly revealed Iranian facility, and a tentativedeal for Russia and France to process some of Iran’s low-enriched uranium for medical use. If made a permanent program, this concept might possibly represent a longer-term solution tointernational concerns about Iran’s nuclear program. The agreements might have represented anIranian reaction to growing partner country support for additional economic sanctions against Iranif the talks do not bear fruit.Any additional U.N. sanctions would build on those put in place since 2006. The U.N. sanctionsban weapons of mass destruction (WMD)-related trade with Iran; freeze the assets of Iran’snuclear entities and personalities; prevent Iran from transferring arms outside Iran; baninternational travel by some Iranians; call for inspections of some Iranian sea and airborne cargoshipments; and call for restrictions on dealings with some Iranian banks. Separate U.S. efforts topersuade European governments to curb trade, investment, and credits to Iran; and to convinceforeign banks not to do business with Iran, are intended to weaken Iran’s economy and compoundthe U.N. pressure. Some in Congress believe that additional unilateral U.S. sanctions—reflectedin bills in the 111
th
Congress such as H.R. 2194 and S. 908, which would tighten U.S. sanctionson Iran by penalizing sales to Iran of gasoline—could help pressure Iran into a nuclear settlement.Others believe new U.S. unilateral or U.N. sanctions would cause Iran to dig in its heels and resistcompromise, and the Obama Administration and its partners have not withdrawn previous offersof economic and political incentives for Iran if it were to agree to a nuclear settlement acceptableto the international community. For further information, see CRS Report RS20871,
 IranSanctions
, by Kenneth Katzman, CRS Report RS22323,
 Iran’s Activities and Influence in Iraq
,by Kenneth Katzman, and CRS Report RL34544,
 Iran’s Nuclear Program: Status
, by Paul K.Kerr.
 
Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy ResponsesCongressional Research Service
Contents
Political History..........................................................................................................................1
 
Regime Structure, Stability, and Elections...................................................................................2
 
The Supreme Leader, His Powers, and Other Ruling Councils...............................................2
 
The Presidency/Mahmoud Ahmadinejad...............................................................................5
 
Ahmadinejad’s Policies and Popularity............................................................................5
 
June 12, 2009, Presidential Elections...............................................................................7
 
Election Dispute and Aftermath.......................................................................................8
 
How Shaken and Divided Is the Regime?........................................................................9
 
Human Rights and Dissent........................................................................................................12
 
Dissident Activists..............................................................................................................12
 
Exiled Opposition Groups...................................................................................................13
 
People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI)/Camp Ashraf....................................13
 
Other Armed Groups.....................................................................................................14
 
The Son of the Former Shah..........................................................................................14
 
Other Outside Activists.................................................................................................15
 
Iran’s Strategic Capabilities and Weapons of Mass Destruction Programs..................................16
 
Conventional Military/Revolutionary Guard/Qods Force.....................................................17
 
Nuclear Program and Related International Diplomacy.......................................................19
 
Iran’s Arguments and the International Response...........................................................20
 
Establishment of “P5+1” Contact Group/June 2006 Incentive Package..........................22
 
Resolution 1696............................................................................................................23
 
Resolution 1737............................................................................................................23
 
Resolution 1747 and Results.........................................................................................23
 
Resolution 1803 and Additional Incentives....................................................................24
 
Resolution 1835............................................................................................................24
 
The P5+1 Process Under President Obama....................................................................25
 
Chemical Weapons, Biological Weapons, and Missiles........................................................27
 
Ballistic Missiles/Warheads...........................................................................................27
 
Foreign Policy and Support for Terrorist Groups.......................................................................28
 
Relations with the Persian Gulf States.................................................................................29
 
Iranian Policy in Iraq...........................................................................................................31
 
Supporting Palestinian Militant Groups...............................................................................32
 
Iran and Hamas.............................................................................................................32
 
Lebanese Hezbollah and Syria.............................................................................................33
 
Syria.............................................................................................................................35
 
Central Asia and the Caspian...............................................................................................35
 
Afghanistan and Pakistan....................................................................................................36
 
Pakistan........................................................................................................................37
 
Al Qaeda.............................................................................................................................37
 
Latin America.....................................................................................................................38
 
India...................................................................................................................................38
 
Africa.................................................................................................................................39
 
U.S. Policy Responses, Options, and Legislation.......................................................................39
 
Policy During the Clinton and George W. Bush Administrations..........................................39
 
George W. Bush Administration Policy.........................................................................40
 

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