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CRS-Iran, March 11, 2010

CRS-Iran, March 11, 2010

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Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses
Dr. Kenneth Katzman Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs March 11, 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 Adm
Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses
Dr. Kenneth Katzman Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs March 11, 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 Adm

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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 AffairsMarch 11, 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 in Iran that has occurred since allegedwide-scale fraud was committed in Iran’s June 12, 2009, presidential election has presented theAdministration with a potential choice of continuing the engagement or backing the opposition“Green movement.” In December 2009, Administration statements shifted toward greater publicsupport of the Green movement, but Administration officials appear to believe that theopposition’s prospects are enhanced by a low U.S. public profile on the unrest. Congressionalresolutions and legislation since mid-2009 show growing congressional support for steps toenhance the opposition’s prospects. Yet, some experts saw the regime’s successful effort toprevent the holding of a large Green movement protest on “revolution day,” February 11, 2010, asan indication that the Administration should return to its engagement efforts.Even at the height of the Green movement protests, the Obama Administration did not foregodiplomatic options to blunt Iran’s nuclear progress and says it remains open to a nuclear deal if Iran fully accepts a framework Iran tentatively agreed to in multilateral talks on October 1, 2009.However, Iran did not accept the technical details of this by the notional deadline of the end of 2009, nor has it adequately responded to international concerns about possible work on a nuclearweapons program. These concerns have sparked renewed multilateral discussions of more U.N.sanctions. New sanctions under negotiation would target members and companies of Iran’sRevolutionary Guard Corps, which is not only a pillar of Iran’s nuclear program but is also themain element used by the regime to crack down against the protesters. Still, China, a majorinvestor in Iran and consumer of its oil, is said to be resisting new steps to pressure Iraneconomically and politically.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.......................................................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............................................................................................................25
 
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.......................................................................29
 
Relations with the Persian Gulf States.................................................................................29
 
Iranian Policy in Iraq...........................................................................................................31
 
Supporting Palestinian Militant Groups...............................................................................32
 
Iran and Hamas.............................................................................................................33
 
Lebanese Hezbollah and Syria.............................................................................................34
 
Syria.............................................................................................................................35
 
Central Asia and the Caspian...............................................................................................35
 
Afghanistan and Pakistan....................................................................................................36
 
Pakistan........................................................................................................................37
 
Al Qaeda.............................................................................................................................37
 
Latin America.....................................................................................................................38
 
India...................................................................................................................................39
 
Africa.................................................................................................................................39
 
U.S. Policy Responses and Options...........................................................................................39
 
Clinton Administration Policy.......................................................................................40
 
George W. Bush Administration Policy.........................................................................40
 
Overview of Obama Administration Policy.........................................................................42
 

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