Secretary Clinton says the U.S. State Department and Treasury Department are identifying ways to target Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.
25 February 2010 Clinton: Concern over Iran Should Be Addressed with “One Voice”, February 25, 2010
By Stephen Kaufman
Washington — The international community has “little choice” but to impose higher costs on Iran due to its provocative actions related to its nuclear program, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton tells congressional panels, adding that the Iranian leadership’s failure to respond to U.S. engagement efforts have helped to build international consensus in support of economic sanctions that some countries might have opposed otherwise.
Clinton testified before congressional committees in the House of Representatives on February 25 and in the Senate on February 24 to urge approval of the State Department’s proposed $52.8 billion budget for the 2011 fiscal year.
The secretary told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that President Obama had offered Iranian leaders “the opportunity to engage in a serious way,” and described it as “a necessary and important step” that was taken despite some domestic political criticism. However, Iran has failed to respond “in a serious manner,” and since the initial U.S. offer of engagement there has been the revelation of a new nuclear facility at Qom, Iran’s decision to attempt uranium enrichment to a higher percentage, and the International Atomic Energy Agency’s February 18 report that Iran may be trying to design a nuclear-armed missile.
The Obama administration is now involved in a diplomatic campaign to further isolate Iran and apply pressure to encourage a change in the Iranian government’s behavior, Clinton said. The United States is urging a broad international approach on economic sanctions.
It is important, she told lawmakers, that “we speak with one voice, one voice within our government and one voice internationally, against Iran’s failure to live up to its responsibilities.”
She said intensive diplomatic consultations and the demonstration of the U.S. commitment to engagement has resulted in “a much warmer, much more receptive audience than we might have had otherwise” concerning new sanctions.
Speaking to reporters at the State Department February 25, Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs P.J. Crowley said a main focal point of pressure would be directed toward Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which “we think is playing an increasing role in Iranian society.”
“It is not our intent to have crippling sanctions that have a significant impact on the Iranian people. Our actual intent is actually to find ways to pressure the government while protecting the people,” Crowley said. “We believe in effective sanctions.”
He said sanctions have proven effective in influencing Libya’s 2003 decision to end its nuclear program, and more recently with U.N. Security Council Resolution 1874, which has hindered North Korean efforts to proliferate “technology of concern.”
Clinton told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee February 24 that among its consultations with other members of the U.N. Security Council on ways to pressure the Iranian leadership, the Obama administration has been “heartened by the positive response from Russia.” It has also been making the argument to China that it should support sanctions because an arms race in the Middle East brought about by Iranian nuclear weapons could destabilize the region and “dramatically undermine the delivery of oil” on which China is dependent.
“We are beginning the process in the Security Council in New York, where language is being hammered out based on work that has been done by the Treasury Department and the State Department in coordination,” Clinton said. “We are targeting a lot of these proposed sanctions against the Revolutionary Guard.”
She added that her hope is that “the next 30 to 60 days will see a sanctions resolution emerge.”
Both houses of the U.S. Congress have passed proposals that would impose a wide array of sanctions against Iran and people or companies that do business with it. The sanctions, if enacted, would go further than the current policy of the Obama administration, but Clinton said she supports congressional action that is designed to encourage a change in Iranian behavior. “There can be a very good partnership between the Congress and the Obama administration in order to achieve that,” she said.
The State Department wants to offer suggestions on the congressional bills “about how they would better fit into our agenda in the Security Council,” as well as to “give the president some flexibility so that we can come out of the legislative process with a really strong tool and not just a statement of concern that won’t really dovetail with what we’re trying to achieve,” Clinton said.