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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Analysis: A Regional Iran Approach

Council on Foreign Relations

July 31, 2007
Prepared by: Lee Hudson Teslik, Robert McMahon

The United States let loose a one-two diplomatic punch aimed both at undercutting Iranian power and rallying Arab financial and diplomatic assistance for Iraq when President Bush dispatched Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates to the Middle East. Rice and Gates visit Egypt and Saudi Arabia this week in an effort to shore up support (WashPost) from U.S. Middle Eastern allies as the White House seeks progress on its primary regional initiatives.

Officials say securing a two-state solution for the Palestinian territories and encouraging a regional effort toward national reconciliation in Iraq remain top priorities, but thus far news reports from the Rice-Gates trip have focused more pointedly on the Iran question. Rice used the opportunity to unveil a new arms proposal (FT) aimed at bolstering some of the United States’ regional allies by supplying billions of dollars worth of weapons to Israel, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia over the course of the next ten years. The deal still needs to pass through the U.S. Congress, where it may face an uphill battle (IHT). Yet whether or not they pass, the proposals may signal a period of retrenchment as U.S. officials seek to counter Iran’s influence, and particularly as they increasingly question Iran’s role in Iraq.

Iran, too, appears to be digging in, sharpening its retorts as pressure increases for Tehran to suspend its uranium-enrichment activities, which some see as a cover for an atomic weapons program. A diplomatic row over U.S. academics detained by the Iranian government continues to fester (RFE/RL), and specifically with respect to the nuclear question Tehran shows little sign of budging.

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Copyright 2007 by the Council on Foreign Relations. This material is republished on with specific permission from the Reprint and republication queries for this article should be directed to

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