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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

INTRO:  The United States is easing some sanctions 
against Iran in the biggest step Washington has yet 
taken toward ending two decades of hostility between 
both countries.  In addition to allowing Americans to 
purchase Iranian goods ranging from carpets to caviar, 
Correspondent Nick Simeone reports the Clinton 
Administration is expressing regret for some of the 
darker chapters in U-S relations with Iran over the 
past half century.
TEXT:  Three years after Iran's reformist President 
Mohammad Khatami took power -- and a month after 
reformists gained the upper hand in parliamentary 
elections -- Washington is telling Iran the time is 
right for a thaw in relations that have been frozen 
for the past 20 years.
Speaking before an audience of Iranian-Americans in 
Washington Friday, Secretary of State Madeleine 
Albright announced a further lifting of sanctions, 
designed to show the Iranian people the United States 
bears them no ill will.
            /// ALBRIGHT ACT ///
      I am announcing a step that will enable 
      Americans to purchase and import carpets and 
      food products such as dried fruits, nuts and 
      caviar from Iran.
            /// END ACT ///
The easing of sanctions amounts to a further 
broadening of commercial ties between both countries.  
Washington recently decided to allow Iran to purchase 
American medicine and food as well as aircraft parts.  
Left in place, though, is a ban prohibiting American 
investment in Iran's oil industry.  That isn't likely 
to be lifted until Tehran ends its alleged support for 
terrorism and its pursuit of nuclear weapons.
Still, the White House is eager to show its support 
for last month's elections that saw reformist 
candidates sweep Iran's parliament, giving further 
backing to President Mohammed Khatami against hard-
liners who oppose greater personal freedoms and 
stronger ties with the West.
Secretary Albright wanted to send a message directly 
to Tehran that America now seeks a clear break from 
the past -- and its past behavior, describing as 
short-sighted U-S support for Iraq during its eight-
year war with Iran, and expressing regret for a U-S 
decision a half century ago to support the overthrow 
of Iran's popularly elected prime minister, Mohammad 
            /// ALBRIGHT ACT ///
      The Eisenhower administration believed its 
      actions were justified for strategic reasons.  
      But the coup was clearly a setback for Iran's 
      political development and it is easy to see now 
      why many Iranians continue to resent this 
      intervention by America.
            /// END ACT ///
Washington doesn't expect an overnight improvement in 
U-S/Iranian relations.  But Gary Sick, who played a 
central role on President Carter's National Security 
Council during the 1979 hostage crisis, thinks it's 
conceivable both countries may be moving toward face-
to-face discussions about the fundamental issues 
blocking normal relations, including Iran's alleged 
support for terrorism and its opposition to the Middle 
East peace process.
            /// SICK ACT ///
      We could ask Iran for specific assurances about 
      certain things.   We could talk to them about 
      things that we see as threatening and ask them 
      to do it and they could tell us things that they 
      see as threatening in our behavior that they 
      would like to see change.  That's what 
      negotiations are all about, and I think once we 
      get to the point where we stop playing that 
      "Alfonse-Gaston" game of who is going to take 
      the first step, who is going to agree to sit 
      down together -- once we get past that, I think 
      we'll discover that both of these countries have 
      a great deal to talk about. 
            /// END ACT ///
Early reaction from the Iranian government to the U-S 
overture is positive, with a Foreign Ministry 
spokesman welcoming the easing of sanctions and 
expanded trade. (SIGNED)
17-Mar-2000 13:01 PM EDT (17-Mar-2000 1801 UTC)
Source: Voice of America

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