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Perceptions and Courses of Actions toward Iran

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Abstract

In which Islamic theocracy were there immediate and repeated public outpourings of sympathy for Americans following the 9/11 attacks in 2001? Few Americans know that hundreds of Iranians gathered publicly to pay their respects and to show their solidarity with the American people, first on 13 September, then in two other candlelight vigils. The crowds chanted "Death to terrorism!" "Death to Bin Laden!" and, "America: condolences, condolences!" Three days after the attacks, a moment of silence for the American tragedy was held before the start of the World cup-qualifying soccer game, the same day the Tehran Friday prayer leader said the terrorist attacks against America were "heart-rending...Everyone condemns, denounces, and is saddened...by it." While note of the candlelight vigils appeared in some Western papers, Iranian sympathy for the U.S. terrorist tragedy is largely unknown here. Because of widespread predetermined and unchallenged assumptions about Iran, these sorts of positive public attitudes nearly inconceivable to many Americans. American misperception and a lack of clear thinking about Iran significantly affect policy making and unnecessarily close off policy options. Currently, the United States is grappling with how to respond to suspected Iranian development of a nuclear weapons capability while Iran's 2005 presidential elections just constituted a conservative monopoly over domestic political institutions. Significant features of Iranian demographics present both an opportunity for a major political breakthrough as well as the conditions for potential serious long-term hostilities with the United States. Given the understanding of facts on the ground in Iran and the context of political factors affecting Iranian choices, it is possible to consider a set of three broad courses of action available to the United States in dealing with Iran. these are preemptive military options, patient noninterference, and rapprochement through trade.

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US President George W. Bush says he still has not ruled out the option of using force against Iran, after it resumed work on its nuclear programme
  • Bbc News
BBC News, "Bush Warns Iran on Nuclear Plans," 13 August 2005, on-line at <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/middle_east/4147892.stm>, accessed 23 August 2005. The article says, "US President George W. Bush says he still has not ruled out the option of using force against Iran, after it resumed work on its nuclear programme." More detailed examples include Michael Klare's discussion of U.S. plans for an attack on Iran in "The Iran War Buildup," The Nation, 21 July 2005, on-line at <www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i= 20050801&s=klare>, accessed 23 August 2005, and in Seymour Hersh, "The Coming Wars," The New Yorker, 24
Iran's Continuing Pursuit of Weapons of Mass Destruction," testimony before the House International Relations Committee Subcommittee on the Middle East and Central Asia
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John R. Bolton, "Iran's Continuing Pursuit of Weapons of Mass Destruction," testimony before the House International Relations Committee Subcommittee on the Middle East and Central Asia, Washington, D.C., 24 June 2004.
The IAEA estimates that once in possession of the explosive material, a country that is so inclined and has made the necessary preparation in design and manufacturing capability can produce bombs in a week or two
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Henry Sokolski, "Introduction," in Checking Iran's Nuclear Ambitions, eds., Henry Sokolski and Patrick Clawson (Carlisle, PA: U.S. Army War College (AWC), Strategic Studies Institute (SSI), January 2004), ix. Sokolski means to draw from their chapter 2. However, Victor Gilinsky's reference in "Iran's 'Legal' Paths to the Bomb," in Sokolski and Clawson, citing the 2001 International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) "Safeguards Glossary," 22, on-line at <www-pub. iaea.org/MTCD/publications/PDF/nvs-3-cd/PDF/NVS3_scr.pdf>, accessed 23 August 2005, is to the generic: "The IAEA estimates that once in possession of the explosive material, a country that is so inclined and has made the necessary preparation in design and manufacturing capability can produce bombs in a week or two.... See www.iaea.org." 12. Orly Halpern, "New Estimates on Iranian Nukes," Jerusalem Post, 1
Iran said operations would remain suspended at its nuclear site in Natanz, where it keeps the centrifuges needed to enrich fuel for nuclear weapons. 16. Board of Governors
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Dafna Linzer, "Findings Could Hurt U.S. Effort On Iran: U.N. Traces Uranium To Tainted Equipment," Washington Post, 11 August 2004, A16, on-line at <www/washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A54948-2004Aug10.html>, accessed 23 August 2005. For the wider dispute, see for example Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Proliferation News and Resources, on-line at <www.carnegieendowment.org/npp/>, accessed 23 August 2005, and John Pike, "Iran Special Weapons Guide," on-line at <www.fas.org/nuke/guide/iran>, accessed 23 August 2005. 15. Nazila Fathi and Alan Cowell, "Iran Threatens to Resume Uranium Enrichment," New York Times, 1 August 2005. Iran said operations would remain suspended at its nuclear site in Natanz, where it keeps the centrifuges needed to enrich fuel for nuclear weapons. 16. Board of Governors, "Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran," IAEA, 24 September 2005, on-line at <www. iaea.org/Publications/Documents/Board/2005/gov2005-77.pdf>, accessed 28 September 2005.
Third Session of the Preparatory Committee for the
  • John S Wolf
John S. Wolf, Third Session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2005
Iran's Arguments for Nuclear Power Make Some Sense
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Pavel Baev, quoted in Paul Hughes, "Iran's Arguments for Nuclear Power Make Some Sense," Reuters News, 2 March 2005. 23. Hughes. 24. Ibid. 25. Bush, "Bush Warns Iran."
38. Ibid. 39. The blame the United States would have to bear if it were to target Iran cannot be dismissed, nor can the fact that the preemptive use of force by the United States would create many more international enemies
  • Mead Walter Russell
Walter Russell Mead, "A Darker Shadow Than Iraq," Los Angeles Times, 25 July 2004. 37. For an elaborated discussion, see Michael Eisenstein, "The Challenges of U.S. Preventive Military Action," in Checking Iran's Nuclear Ambitions, eds., Henry Sokolski and Patrick Clawson (Carlisle, PA: AWC, SSI, January 2004). 38. Ibid. 39. The blame the United States would have to bear if it were to target Iran cannot be dismissed, nor can the fact that the preemptive use of force by the United States would create many more international enemies, some appearing in the form of terrorists.
Winning Iranian Hearts and Minds
  • Abbas William Samii
Abbas William Samii, "Winning Iranian Hearts and Minds," in Sokolski and Clawson, chap. 3.
A complex understanding of Iranian culture probably leads to conclusions at odds with current U.S. policy. In a recent poll of Middle East area studies academics, most thought the Bush Administration should accept tightly monitored Iranian civilian nuclear-power generation. For more information
The Shah was permitted a brief visit for cancer treatment, partly because of pressure applied by David Rockefeller and Chase Manhattan Bank, which had substantial Pahlavi family holdings at stake. However, we can understand that it looked to many Iranians like the Shah's admission could be yet another staging for U.S. interventionism. 42. American statements are frequently counterproductive. Bush's denunciation just before Iran's presidential elections of its "electoral process that ignores the basic requirements of democracy" was seen by some to increase Iranian voter turnout. See Robin Wright and Michael A. Fletcher, "Bush Denounces Iran's Election," Washington Post, 17 June 2005, A18. 43. A complex understanding of Iranian culture probably leads to conclusions at odds with current U.S. policy. In a recent poll of Middle East area studies academics, most thought the Bush Administration should accept tightly monitored Iranian civilian nuclear-power generation. For more information, see Institute for Research: Middle East Policy, Middle East Academic Survey Research Exposition, July 2005.
Department of Defense Institute for National Strategic Studies. Clawson estimated that sanctions cost Iran 10 percent of its foreignexchange receipts in the first year. 47. The phraseology of the sentence used here is courtesy of Shahram Mostarshed
  • Sanger
Sanger, "Cheney Says Israel Might 'Act First' on Iran," New York Times, 21 January 2005. Cheney said: "The Israelis might well decide to act first and let the rest of the world worry about cleaning up the diplomatic mess afterwards." 45. U.S. Congress, House, Jeffrey J. Schott, "The Iran and Libya Sanctions Act of 1996: Results to Date," testimony before the Committee on International Relations, Washington, D.C., 23 July 1997. Schott said: "Overall, the US sanctions have been costly to both Iran and the United States, but have generated few concrete benefits... and induced no significant change in Iranian policy." 46. Bruce Odessey, "One Analyst Views US Sanctions Against Iran As a Success," on-line at <www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/news/iran/1996/960429-434662.htm>, accessed 23 August 2005, cites Patrick Clawson in 1996, when Clawson was at the U.S. Department of Defense Institute for National Strategic Studies. Clawson estimated that sanctions cost Iran 10 percent of its foreignexchange receipts in the first year. 47. The phraseology of the sentence used here is courtesy of Shahram Mostarshed. 48. In 2000, U.S. President Bill Clinton and his administration removed certain commodities from the sanctions, notably Persian carpets and pistachios. U.S. antidumping regulations were not removed on pistachios, so the 300 percent duty on them remains. 49. Narsi Ghorban, "The Need to Restructure Iran's Petroleum Industry,"
Working Paper 05-3, Institute for International Economics (IIE)
  • Marcus Noland
Marcus Noland in "Affinity and International Trade," Working Paper 05-3, Institute for International Economics (IIE), Washington, D.C., June 2005, and "Popular Attitudes, Globalization, and Risk," Working Paper 04-2, IIE, Washington, D.C., 2004. Noland says: "Warmer attitudes are associated with more trade." 54. Knorr, 97.