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

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies 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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid