Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Friday, March 02, 2007

Briefing on the current situation in Iran

At a Congressional briefing Wednesday, Ambassador R. Nicholas Burns, the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, addressed Congress regarding the current situation in Iran and options for U.S. policy.

Having just returned from London, where he discussed the possibility of imposing additional sanctions on Iran, – a measure which was endorsed by India, Brazil and Egypt last week – Burns has confidence that even modestly bolstered sanctions will have a major impact by sending a clear message to the Iranian regime that new avenues must be pursued.
Burns made it clear that Iran is the central actor in the Middle East and there is a strong need to hold them accountable for their actions. Iran’s determination to dominate the region is disturbing and crafting an effective response to the threat that the nation poses is vital, he said.

However, Burns asserted that, “Conflict is neither desirable nor inevitable.” He went on to say that Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weaponry is not imminent and there is still time to pursue diplomacy that would advance U.S. interests. In this vein, Burns argued that the key question is what we can offer in negotiations that would allow Iran to save face. He sees an option in providing economic benefits that would include, among other things, civil aviation and nuclear power programs.

Burns is concerned, however, that the Iranian regime feels excluded by much of the international community and are consequently seeking out allies in Latin America. He believes that we need to pay special attention to Iran’s relationship with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. “They are our neighbors, and money talks,” Burns said.
Burns asserted that American policy towards Iran will be defined by a strong commitment to diplomacy and a commitment to building a multilateral coalition opposed to Iran’s nuclear ambitions and pursuit of regional dominance.


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