Thursday, December 09, 2004

What is the U.S. planning for Iran?

What is the U.S. planning for Iran?: "What is the U.S. planning for Iran?
12/9/2004 12:15:00 PM GMT
The administration was never able to agree on an Iran policy

While U.S. troops are engaged Iraq war, officials in the Bush administration are busy planning to step up pressure against Iran, another member in Bush’s so called “Axis of evil”.

According to U.S. officials, congressional aides, officials at the Bush administration are seeking to increase public criticism of Iran's human rights record by backing exiles and other opponents of the country's government, as well as collecting better intelligence on the Islamic republic.

With the U.S. military engaged in two major wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. new campaign is not necessarily aimed at building support for taking military action against Iran, but rather to turn up the heat on Iran to abandon its nuclear program.

The U.S. government was never able to agree on an Iran policy during George W. Bush's first term. The State Department favored engagement and international action, whereas officials in the Defense Department and Vice President Dick Cheney's office were for considering military action against Iran's nuclear facilities.

How, the way to handle Iran’s case is a major foreign policy issue in Bush's second term.

But because the U.S. military now stretched by the conflicts in Iraq, Bush appears to have no good military options against Iran, almost four times larger than Iraq and has nearly three times the population.

Even a limited U.S. air strike on Iran's nuclear facilities would spark worldwide resentment, and endanger U.S. troops in Iraq, plus it would have no assurance of success.

On the other hand, European nations prefer using diplomacy to stop Iran's nuclear program.

Top Bush administration officials have been hinting recently that the White House is eager to start pulling out troops from Iraq by the middle of next year, which, according to a senior administration official would give Bush more options in dealing with Iran.

The new, more aggressive campaign is believed to have the backing of Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice.

Officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, also said that among other steps that are being considered are stronger public condemnations of Iran's human rights practices and treatment of women; increased U.S. broadcasting into the country, and financial backing for pro-Western groups.

Rice has studied some of the suggested ideas during a White House meeting with leaders of major Jewish-American groups last week, according to some diplomats who were briefed on the session.

"We have to do more to help the human rights community and the dissidents inside Iran," Rice told the group.

According to one of the administration officials said Rice's remarks reflected a "heightened attempt" to expose Iran's behavior. "We're trying to make plain for the international community the strategic challenge that Iran poses," he said.

Meanwhile, the Broadcasting Board of Governors has suggested a major increase in broadcasting into Iran by Voice of America television, a U.S. official said.

The proposal, more likely to win the White House’s approval, states increasing daily broadcasts to about three hours a day, instead of 30 minutes, the official said.

However, while many Iranians, specially young age, started to turn against their rulers and are even pro-American, they remain deeply suspicious of foreign meddling in Iranian politics."

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