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CRS-Iran, February 16, 2010

CRS-Iran, February 16, 2010

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Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses
Dr. Kenneth Katzman Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs February 16, 2010

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 Obama Administration has not changed the Bush
Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses
Dr. Kenneth Katzman Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs February 16, 2010

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 Obama Administration has not changed the Bush

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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 AffairsFebruary 16, 2010
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 Obama Administration has notchanged the Bush Administration’s 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. However, the Obama Administration has formulated approaches toachieve those goals that differ from those of its predecessor by expanding direct diplomaticengagement with Iran’s government and by downplaying discussion of potential U.S. militaryaction against Iranian nuclear facilities. With the nuclear issue unresolved, the domestic unrest inIran that has burgeoned since alleged wide scale fraud was committed in Iran’s June 12, 2009,presidential election has presented the Administration with a potential choice of continuing theengagement or backing the opposition “Green movement.” In December 2009, Administrationstatements shifted toward greater public support of the Green movement, but Administrationofficials appear to believe that the opposition’s prospects are enhanced by a low U.S. publicprofile on the unrest. Congressional resolutions and legislation since mid-2009 show growingcongressional attention to the plight of Iran’s opposition and support for steps to enhance theopposition’s prospects. Iran’s neighbors continue to engage the regime in normal trade anddiplomatic exchange, although it is widely believed that many regional leaders, particularly thePersian Gulf states, are hoping for a regime collapse.At the same time, the Administration does not want to forego its diplomatic options to blunt Iran’snuclear progress and says it remains open to a nuclear deal if Iran fully accepts a framework Irantentatively agreed to in multilateral talks on October 1, 2009. The framework provided for Russiaand France to reprocess some of Iran’s low-enriched uranium for medical use. However, Iran didnot accept the technical details of this by the notional deadline of the end of 2009, sparkingrenewed multilateral discussions of more U.N. sanctions. Any new sanctions are expected totarget members and companies of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, which is not only a pillar of Iran’s nuclear program but is also the main element used by the regime to crack down against theprotesters. Some believe that sanctions that target the regime’s security forces, reduce its ability tomonitor the Internet, and undermine the international legitimacy of regime leaders might help thedomestic opposition materially change or even topple the regime.Additional U.N. Security Council sanctions would build on those put in place since 2006. Thesesanctions generally are targeted against WMD-related trade with Iran, but also ban Iran fromtransferring arms outside Iran and restrict dealings with some Iranian banks. Separate U.S. effortsto persuade European governments to curb trade with, investment in, and credits for Iran, and toconvince foreign banks not to do business with Iran, are intended to compound the U.N. pressure.Each chamber in the 111
th
Congress has passed separate legislation to try to curb sales to Iran of gasoline, which many Members believe could help pressure Iran into a nuclear settlement orundermine the regime’s popularity even further. Others believe such steps could help the regimerebuild its support by painting the international community as punitive against the Iranian people.For further information, see CRS Report RS20871,
 Iran Sanctions
, by Kenneth Katzman; CRSReport R40849,
 Iran: Regional Perspectives and U.S. Policy
, coordinated by Casey L. Addis; andCRS 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 Opposition................................................................................2
 
The Supreme Leader, His Powers, and Other Ruling Councils...............................................2
 
The Presidency/Mahmoud Ahmadinejad...............................................................................6
 
Ahmadinejad’s Policies and Popularity............................................................................7
 
June 12, 2009, Presidential Elections...............................................................................8
 
Election Dispute and Emergence of Green Movement.....................................................9
 
How Shaken and Divided Is the Regime?......................................................................10
 
Exiled Opposition Groups...................................................................................................12
 
People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI)/Camp Ashraf....................................12
 
The Son of the Former Shah..........................................................................................13
 
Other Outside Activists.................................................................................................14
 
Ethnic or Religiously Based Armed Groups...................................................................14
 
Human Rights Practices............................................................................................................15
 
Iran’s Strategic Capabilities and Weapons of Mass Destruction Programs..................................17
 
Conventional Military/Revolutionary Guard/Qods Force.....................................................17
 
Nuclear Program and Related International Diplomacy.......................................................20
 
Iran’s Arguments and the International Response...........................................................21
 
Establishment of “P5+1” Contact Group/June 2006 Incentive Package..........................23
 
Resolution 1696............................................................................................................24
 
Resolution 1737............................................................................................................24
 
Resolution 1747 and Results.........................................................................................24
 
Resolution 1803 and Additional Incentives....................................................................25
 
Resolution 1835............................................................................................................25
 
The P5+1 Process Under President Obama....................................................................26
 
Chemical Weapons, Biological Weapons, and Missiles........................................................28
 
Ballistic Missiles/Warheads...........................................................................................28
 
Foreign Policy and Support for Terrorist Groups.......................................................................30
 
Relations with the Persian Gulf States.................................................................................30
 
Iranian Policy in Iraq...........................................................................................................32
 
Supporting Palestinian Militant Groups...............................................................................33
 
Iran and Hamas.............................................................................................................34
 
Lebanese Hezbollah and Syria.............................................................................................35
 
Syria.............................................................................................................................36
 
Central Asia and the Caspian...............................................................................................36
 
Afghanistan and Pakistan....................................................................................................37
 
Pakistan........................................................................................................................38
 
Al Qaeda.............................................................................................................................38
 
Latin America.....................................................................................................................39
 
India...................................................................................................................................40
 
Africa.................................................................................................................................40
 
U.S. Policy Responses, Options, and Legislation.......................................................................40
 
Clinton Administration Policy.......................................................................................41
 
George W. Bush Administration Policy.........................................................................41
 
Overview of Obama Administration Policy.........................................................................42
 

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