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

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap 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.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid