News / Middle East

Iran Remains Key Foreign Policy Issue for Obama

In this photo released by the International Iran Photo Agency, Iranian technicians work at the Bushehr nuclear power plant, outside the southern city of Bushehr, 23 Aug 2010
In this photo released by the International Iran Photo Agency, Iranian technicians work at the Bushehr nuclear power plant, outside the southern city of Bushehr, 23 Aug 2010

One of the central foreign policy questions facing the Obama administration is how to persuade Iran to end its uranium enrichment program.

The United States and the European Union have for years believed that Iran's uranium enrichment program is designed to produce a nuclear weapon. Iran has said its program is meant only for peaceful purposes, such as generating electricity.

In an effort to persuade Iran to end its nuclear program, the United Nations Security Council has passed four sets of resolutions imposing sanctions on Tehran. In addition, several other nations, including the United States, have imposed their own measures.

Retired U.S. Marine Corps General Anthony Zinni says sanctions can be a double-edged sword.  "We have to be sure that any sanction doesn't end up just hurting the people more than the regime," he said. "They are blunt instruments, in many cases, and you're trying to target the regime but it ends up falling down onto the people."

However former U.S. Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger [1992, George H.W. Bush administration] says the international community must put more pressure on Iran.

"The international community can first of all do a great deal more than it is doing," he said. "And what that means more than anything else would be - and I emphasize this would be an international effort, not just our own - an international effort which would cut Iran off from both the materials necessary to build the weapons , but beyond that, in terms of making their economic life extremely difficult if they continued with this effort."

'Regional security structure'

For his part, General Zinni says a regional security structure must be established around Iran. "We have people in the region who are very concerned about Iran," he said. "I don't think we've worked to build the kind of security arrangement in that part of the world that shows that Iran would be clearly isolated."

"I think they provide veiled threats to their neighbors. Their neighbors are looking to us and others for some sort of cooperative defense system, maybe cooperative air and missile defense and other kinds of programs which would show them we're prepared to deal with any threat," he added.

'Military intervention'

While espousing diplomacy with Iran, the Obama administration has said all options are on the table - diplomatic parlance meaning military attacks have not been ruled out.

Lawrence Eagleburger favors military intervention but not only against Iran. "In the case of North Korea, if we had had to use force, I would have said we should have used it," he said. "I would say the same for Iran, if there is no other way to bring Iran to heel on the subject of the development of nuclear weapons."

"Now the problem with that, and I am the first to admit it, is that it will horrify world opinion. It would horrify most American opinion if we in fact took military action against Iran. But I would tell you that horror today would be small in comparison with the horror that will one day affect the whole world when in fact we find ourselves engaged in a nuclear war somewhere," he continued.

Consequences

General Zinni agrees that all options should remain on the table. But he also warns that military intervention against Iran could have dire consequences.

"If we end up with a conflict - there are strikes and counterstrikes in the region - it is going to affect the access to important energy resources; it will affect the economy of the world; it could stir up reaction in the Islamic world if it is perceived as being a pre-emptive attack, not being warranted - however that propaganda may play that," he said.

"The ability of the Iranians to fire missiles from mobile sites, put mines in the Strait of Hormuz, activate sleeper cells, terrorist cells - I mean this thing could escalate to the point where we have a major conflict and right at the heart of the energy resources that the world's economy depends on," he added.

Zinni and like-minded analysts say the international community must find a diplomatic solution to Iran's nuclear ambitions in order to avoid a potential military strike with dire consequences for everyone concerned.

You May Like

ASEAN Ministers to Push for S. China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs