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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Analysis: Turning the Screws on Iran

Council on Foreign Relations

August 16, 2007
Author: Robert McMahon

The Bush administration’s plans to target the business dealings (IHT) of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, the largest branch of the country’s armed services, set in motion what is expected to be a lively new round of diplomacy aimed at getting Tehran to suspend its uranium enrichment program. The administration’s point man on Iran policy, Undersecretary R. Nicholas Burns, earlier this month predicted “increasingly tough" international action against Iran because they refuse to negotiate and they refuse to slow down their nuclear efforts.” The United States has been the motor behind such action through a two-pronged approach involving UN Security Council sanctions and separate initiatives by the U.S. Treasury Department to pressure (BusinessWeek) Western financial institutions to cut off dealings with Iran. Activities in both arenas are expected to intensify in the next few months.

U.S. officials reportedly are still debating (WashPost) whether to target the entire Revolutionary Guard Corps, or only the Guard’s Qods Force. The force is linked to arming Shiite militants in Iraq and Taliban fighters in Afghanistan. Top U.S. intelligence official Michael McConnell recently told CFR.org there is "overwhelming evidence" of this, though Iran denies the accusation (VOA). Since the United States has few business dealings with Iran, the effect of the terrorist designation is expected to be further pressure on foreign governments and companies to end business ties with Iran. Karim Sadjadpour, an expert on Iran at the Carnegie Endowment, tells CFR.org that a powerful hardline clique in the Revolutionary Guards is reaping billions of dollars in contracts related to the oil industry and major infrastructure projects.

The reported U.S. plans heighten the intrigue surrounding Iran at the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which got underway in Kyrgyzstan on August 16.

Read the rest of this article on the cfr.org website.

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

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