More Iran Penalties Under Consideration, Clinton Says
Nuclear Threat Initiative
October 27, 2011
The United States is assessing potential new punitive steps to address Iran's atomic activities and purported backing of extremists, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Persian-language news organizations on Thursday (see GSN, Oct. 26).
Washington remains dedicated to its strategy of seeking dialogue with Tehran while also pursuing penalties against the government, the Associated Press quoted Clinton as saying. The United States and its allies have accused Iran of using its ostensibly peaceful atomic program to pursue a nuclear-weapon capability.
The Obama administration plans in 2011 to establish a "virtual embassy in Tehran" aimed at inhabitants of Iran harmed by their country's "reckless" pursuit of uranium enrichment -- a process that can generate civilian nuclear fuel as well as bomb material -- and other controversial activities, she added.
"Everyone believes that the covert actions, the covert facilities, the misleading information is part of an attempt by the regime to acquire nuclear weapons," Clinton said. Facts run counter to Iran's insistence that its nuclear program is strictly geared toward power production, she added (Bradley Klapper, Associated Press/Google News, Oct. 27).
Thirty-nine U.S. lawmakers in a statement on Wednesday pressed Clinton to employ penalties more widely against non-U.S. firms aiding Iran's atomic efforts through ties to its energy operations, Representative Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) said. Lipinski said he and Representative Frank Wolf (R-Va.) had headed the document's preparation (U.S. Representative Dan Lipinski release, Oct. 26).
Separately, Representative Pat Meehan (R-Pa.) on Wednesday voiced concern over the threat a nuclear-armed Iran would pose to the United States and Israel.
"When it comes to the prospect of a nuclear Iran that is willing to engineer terrorist attacks on U.S. soil, and has vowed to wipe Israel off the map, it appears to me that our government risks another failure of imagination and does not understand the gravity of the Iranian threat," Meehan, chairman of the House Homeland Security Counterterrorism and Intelligence Subcommittee, said in prepared remarks for a hearing on "Iranian terror operations on American soil" (see related GSN story, today).
"Simply taking him at his word, [Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad] would use nuclear weapons to literally wipe Israel off the map. It is my belief we should take him at his word and do everything we can as a nation to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, ensuring both U.S. and Israeli security," Meehan said.
“The U.S. and Israel share a common enemy in Iran and, in Israel’s case, a potential existential threat if Iran attains a nuclear weapon. The United States must do everything in its power to protect the state of Israel [from] an Iranian attack of any kind," he said (U.S. Representative Pat Meehan release, Oct. 26).
Democratic lawmakers at the hearing said existing penalties had succeeded in bogging down Iranian efforts to build nuclear bombs, but their Republican counterparts said tougher action is needed, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“While it might be emotionally satisfying to take military action, I think it would be exactly the wrong step,” former Assistant Defense Secretary Lawrence Korb said in the discussion. A purported attempt backed by Iran to kill Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Washington was “a sign of desperation” that shows “sanctions are working,” he said (Ken Dilanian, Los Angeles Times, Oct. 26).
Meanwhile, no European ambassadors this week attended an Iranian meeting aimed at improving Tehran's ties with the European Union, suggesting the outreach was considered insufficient amid tensions over Iran's nuclear activities and other disputed activities, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday.
“We want to eliminate the existing hurdles in [Iran’s] relations with the European Union,” Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said in a written statement read at the meeting in Tehran after Salehi himself failed to appear. “We hope Iran’s relations with Europe will be normalized gradually, for which we need constant consultations and patience” (Najmeh Bozorgmehr, Financial Times, Oct. 26).
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