[Congressional Record Volume 141, Number 173 (Friday, November 3, 1995)]
[Pages S16682-S16686]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                          RELENTLESS PURSUIT?

 Mr. SIMON. Mr. President, I am sure I know less about what is 
taking place in Iran than some members of the Senate. I have followed 
the news, but I have not tried to become as knowledgeable about Iran as 
I am some areas of Africa and other areas of the world. I read about a 
symposium in the publication Middle East Policy in which Ellen Laipson, 
Director of Near East and South East Affairs from the National Security 
Council, discusses the Iran situation with Prof. Gary Sick of Columbia 
University, and Prof. Richard Cottam of the University of Pittsburgh.
  Ms. Laipson gives an administrational line on what is taking place in 
Iran. But coming from a base of limited understanding, it appears to me 
that Gary Sick and Richard Cottam make a great deal of sense. What I 
kept thinking, as I read the discussion, was that our attitude toward 
Iran is very similar to our attitude toward Cuba. There is no question 
that our Cuban policy has been counterproductive, appealing to the 
national passion rather than the national interest. I have the uneasy 
feeling that our policy toward Iran is the same.
  I ask unanimous consent that their discussion be printed in the 
Record at this point and urge my colleagues to particularly read the 
discussion by Professor Sick and Professor Cottam.
  The material follows:

  Symposium: U.S. Policy Toward Iran: From Containment to Relentless 

             (By Ellen Laipson, Gary Sick, Richard Cottam)

 ellen laipson, director of near east and south asian affairs for the 
                       national security council

       It will come as no surprise that Iran has been a major 
     challenge for the Clinton administration's foreign policy. 
     Today's forum is well-timed, because it gives us a chance to 
     review the recent debate over the policy and the changes that 
     the president announced just about a month ago. I welcome the 
     chance to discuss this important issue and hear your views as 
     well, and to be able to bring those ideas back to the debate 
     that we have within the government.
       We all recognize the importance of Iran in the Middle East 
     region--the complexity of its society, the richness of its 
     cultural traditions, and the very troubled history of U.S.-
     Iran relations in recent years. I think no one would disagree 
     with the proposition that the last decade and a half has been 
     a difficult time in the relationship between Iran and the 
     United States. But it is our view that the situation we're in 
     today does derive from the conditions in the region and from 
     our efforts to protect our critical interests there.
       I will divide my remarks into three simple questions. 
     First, what is the policy? Second, why did the president make 
     the changes that were announced on April 30? And, lastly, 
     where do we go from here?
       To give you the current state of play in the policy, it's 
     important to note that our approach focuses on Iran's 
     actions--not the nature of the regime, not what they call 
     themselves, not the Islamic character of the regime, but the 
     specific actions that we have observed the Iranian government 
     get involved in. These include, first and foremost, their 
     involvement in terrorism, particularly that which undermines 
     the peace process in the Middle East--and their pursuit of 
     weapons of mass destruction. In addition, we focus a lot of 
     our concern on their efforts to subvert friendly governments 
     in the region, their unfortunate human-rights record, and 
     their conventional arms buildup which could, if realized, 
     pose real threats to small Persian Gulf states that are 
     friends of the United States.
       At the same time, we also have to focus on the long-term 
     challenge from Iran--not just the actions of today, but the 
     potential, the capability that Iran could have, if it were to 
     fulfill its ambitions, particularly in the weapons area. We 
     are not trying to argue that today Iran poses a major 
     military threat to the United States, but we are working to 
     prevent it from doing so. We are looking at Iran's ambitions 
     and intentions, not just its current military capabilities.
       The policy is trying to capture, on the one hand, our 
     efforts to address Iran's behavior today and, on the other 
     hand, to develop a strategy that tries to anticipate a future 
     Iran that would be a stronger and more formidable player in 
     the region. Our approach combines pressure with other 
     measures. We are trying to give Iran's leadership a chance to 
     make a strategic choice. They could change their policies in 
     order to serve Iran's interests, which we believe are 
     fundamentally, among other things, economic growth and 
     political stability. We think that Iran's government has the 
     chance to adapt its behavior in ways that would make it 
     conform more with international norms.
       There has been no change in our policy on the question of a 
     dialogue. We are still willing to engage in a dialogue with 
     authoritative representatives of the Iranian government. We 
     believe that pressure and dialogue can go together. This 
     would be normal. By the rules of diplomacy, it would be 
     possible to have both.
       Let me give you a little more detail on what the pressure 
     tactics involve, since they have recently changed. The policy 
     of containment, which was declared when the Clinton 
     administration first came to office, involves a comprehensive 
     series of unilateral measures and a series of multilateral 
     efforts as well. Until recently, the dimensions of our 
     economic policy towards Iran consisted of an arms ban, a ban 
     on dual-use technologies, a total import ban on Iranian 
     products coming into this country, controls on certain items 
     for export to Iran, and a diplomatic position of blocking all 
     lending to Iran from international financial institutions.
       After four to five months of internal debate, the president 
     announced on April 30, and signed on May 6, an executive 
     order that is an important reinforcement or strengthening of 
     our policy towards Iran. He announced that, from now on, we 
     will prohibit all trade, financing, loans and financial 
     services to Iran. We will ban U.S. companies from purchasing 
     Iranian oil overseas, even if it is for resale overseas. And 
     new investment by American companies in Iran is prohibited. 
     The president's executive order also bans their re-export to 
     Iran from third countries of those goods or technologies that 
     are on controlled lists for direct export from the United 
     States to Iran. In addition, it prohibits U.S. persons and 
     companies from approving or facilitating transactions with 
     Iran by their affiliates.
       The executive order does not have exterritorial application 
     to foreign subsidiaries of U.S. companies. It does not ban 
     the import of informational materials from Iran. And it does 
     not block Iranian assets or ban private remittances to and 
     from Iran by private Iranian nationals.
       As you can see, these are very strong, but not total, 
     economic measures. They form part, but not all, of our policy 
     effort vis-a-vis Iran. The economic pressure, in a way, has 
     to be seen in both the political and diplomatic context that 
     is our overall policy. We are working and will continue to 
     work hard multilaterally to make sure that the arms ban, the 
     limits on credit and aid, the ban on support for Iran from 
     international financial institutions, and cooperation with 
     Iran in nuclear matters continue. We have enjoyed, up until 
     now, what we consider to be good support from most of the 
     advanced Western countries in these areas, and we would like 
     to see more.
       We initially worked within the G-7 context. But as you 
     know, in the past year, we have expanded our diplomatic 
     efforts to include Russia, China and all other potential 
     suppliers to Iran of these high-technology and weapons-
     related items.
       President Clinton and President Yeltsin last summer 
     announced an agreement that would involve the future ban of 
     all Russian arms sales to Iran. I think you will see more of 
     these kinds of agreements with others of Iran's would-be 
       We also have political talks with out major allies, both in 
     the West and in the Middle East, about Iran. These political 
     talks, in and of themselves, form a kind of pressure because 
     Iran is very aware of these discussions, and that we are 
     sharing information about our concerns over Iranian behavior 
     in these discussions. We hold the talks with the European 
     Union, with Canada, with Japan, with Russia, with most of our 
     Middle Eastern allies.

[[Page S 16683]]

       In these talks, we discuss the merits of our approach--an 
     approach of economic pressure, and the approach of our 
     allies. Some of our allies prefer critical dialogue, which is 
     the formula that the European Union uses. Some prefer 
     constructive engagement, which is, I think, how the Japanese 
     would characterize their policy. And others would use other 
     formulas to describe their approach to Iran. It is true that 
     we all continue to believe that there's room for some 
     disagreement over what is the best approach to Iran. But we 
     are of the view that the president's recent measures have 
     very much caught the attention of our allies and will create 
     a new dynamic in our discussion on this important topic.
       We also share our concerns about the long-term threat that 
     Iran could pose if it achieved both its conventional and its 
     nonconventional military objectives--the threat that it would 
     pose to the Persian Gulf countries, and to the region as a 
     whole. I believe the Middle Eastern allies, in particular, 
     see the American military presence in the Gulf--which most 
     recently has been in response to Iraqi aggression--as helpful 
     to sending a deterrent message to Iran.
       Let me address why the change. The Clinton administration 
     began a review in the fall of last year that, in some ways, 
     was a very thoughtful assessment as we approached the 
     midpoint of the presidential term. We thought it was a 
     natural time to do an assessment of what has worked and what 
     hasn't, where the policy can be refined, where it can be 
     improved or enhanced.
       We examined how Iran has responded to American policy until 
     now and whether Iran's behavior had changed in the areas that 
     we had expressed greatest concern about. We identified that, 
     while in some areas Iran's behavior was more or less as it 
     had been a few years ago, in certain areas, we thought it had 
     worsened. In particular, we believe that the rise in 
     terrorism against the Middle East peace process that began in 
     the fall of 1994 has some links to Iran, and is deeply 
     disturbing to one of our principal objectives, not only in 
     the region, but worldwide: the achievement of a comprehensive 
     peace between Israel and its neighbors.
       We also saw continuing and, in some ways, accelerating 
     signs of Iran's efforts to procure the materials and 
     technology needed for a weapons-of-mass-destruction program. 
     So, in those two key areas, it was our judgment that the 
     situation was in fact getting worse and required some new 
     policy responses.
       Second, I would cite, as a reason for the change, the 
     increasing challenge from our allies. They saw and told us 
     that they saw an inconsistency between our containment policy 
     and the fact that we continue to trade with Iran. That 
     charge--even if based on a misleading use of trade 
     statistics--was harmful to our efforts to maximize the 
     consensus among Western partners that we consider to be a key 
     part of our overall policy success. We feel strongly that 
     Iran should hear to the maximum extent possible, the same 
     signal from the United States that it hears from its other 
     Western trading partners. This would have the greatest impact 
     of the calculation that Iran needs to make about how its 
     economic interests are affected by its own policy choices.
       Third, and more recently, we did witness some erosion in 
     the domestic consensus that we have enjoyed over our Iran 
     policy. We saw a domestic debate, initiated here in the halls 
     of Congress, over the need to pursue a tougher policy towards 
     Iran. Until now, I would say that we have enjoyed 
     considerable domestic support for containment, and we wanted 
     to restore that degree of support. It was our view that an 
     unresolved debate, questioning whether the policy was 
     effective enough, would limit our effectiveness in 
     communicating with Iran.
       The administration conducted a thorough review of the 
     policy options, and they were debated with some vigor among 
     both the national-security agencies and the economic-policy 
     factors within the U.S. government. We tried to balance a 
     complex and, I think, difficult set of considerations. We 
     asked ourselves, how would new economic measures, new 
     sanctions, affect Iran's behavior? Would they affect the 
     Iranian government or the Iranian people? How would they 
     affect American competitiveness and American jobs, and how 
     would they affect the willingness of our allies to work with 
     us in a coordinated fashion on the Iran problem?
       It is true that no one of the options that we considered 
     would maximize all of these factors. There were trade-offs. 
     There were policy options that made some of these issues 
     easier and some harder. But we took them all into account.
       Let me just end with what we see as the next steps. We do 
     not exaggerate our chances for any quick success on the 
     dramatic announcement the President made on April 30. We 
     don't have any illusions that, overnight, Iran will stand up 
     and publicly say that it is changing its behavior. But we do 
     see a number of important signs already. We know that the 
     President's announcement has had an impact on Iran. And I 
     think those of you who follow the currency market are well 
     aware of the dramatic fall in the value of the rial since the 
     President's announcement. We know that we have the attention 
     of the Rafsanjani government--witness his invitation to 
     prominent American media to try to explain the government's 
     side of the story, denying charges of terrorism, denying that 
     there is a weapons program, etc. To me, this very much 
     manifests the Iranian government's concern with the 
     perception of its behavior that the President's announcement 
     has evoked.
       We think this is a process, an ongoing process that will 
     require a lot of diplomatic engagement, a lot of hard work, 
     and we are certainly aware that it has had some costs to 
     various interests. We will have to measure our success in 
     careful ways. We will continue to look for the supplier 
     restraint that we have already created, to a certain extent, 
     and for some other indicators. Will Iran need to think hard 
     about the trade-offs between what it wants economically and 
     its political behavior? We certainly hope so. Will the allies 
     accept, now, the firmness of our resolve and our commitment 
     to a containment policy? Will the allies join us in similar 
     measures? We hope and expect to see more restraints in aid to 
     Iran--loans, credits--and hopefully more political 
     convergence in our overall approaches.
       We are doing a number of things. There are intensive 
     diplomatic efforts leading up to the Halifax meeting [of the 
     G-7] that will take place next week in addition to bilateral 
     meetings in which the Iran question is almost inevitably 
     raised. We are sharing more information with our allies about 
     terrorism and their nuclear plans, since some countries have 
     said that this will be a critical factor in determining 
     whether they change their policies or not. We don't know 
     whether this is a political posture for them or if they 
     really mean it. But we will make the extra effort to share 
     with them the information that we have found so 
     compelling and so persuasive, and hope that they will 
     agree to conduct an evaluation of their own policies and 
     see what else is possible.
       And immediately and within Washington, we are engaging with 
     U.S. businesses to ensure a fair and prompt implementation of 
     the president's executive order. We are aware that the policy 
     has had some costs and has inflicted some short-term 
     dislocations on some of our interests. The president made his 
     decision because he believed it was commensurate with the 
     threat--both in the short-term and the long-term--that Iran's 
     behavior poses. We hope very much that this recent decision 
     will enhance our ability to exercise leadership with our 
     allies. It has already, in part, restored the domestic 
     consensus over our Iran policy.

gary sick, director, gulf 2000 project and adjunct professor, columbia 

       I agree with Ellen on many points. There are aspects of 
     Iran's behavior that are indeed troubling and that we should 
     try to change. Iran's record on human rights is deplorable. 
     The bounty that the revolutionary organization has placed on 
     the head of Salman Rushdie, which amounts to an incitement to 
     murder, is detestable. Iran's opposition to the peace process 
     is a complicating factor, and if that opposition takes the 
     form of money, arms and training for terrorist operations, it 
     is unacceptable.
       The same holds true for the funding of terrorist operations 
     in any other country. Iran's development of military 
     capabilities that go beyond its legitimate needs for self-
     defense and which pose a potential threat to its neighbors is 
     both destabilizing and unhealthy. No one wants to see Iran 
     acquire nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction.
       On these issues, there is agreement not only in this room, 
     I think, and in Washington, but also in the capitals of 
     virtually every country in the world. The question is how to 
     pursue these objectives, and it is on that question that I 
     disagree most vigorously with the policies that are being 
     pursued by the Clinton administration.
       There are two cardinal tests, it seems to me, that should 
     be applied to any foreign policy initiative. First, is there 
     a realistic prospect that the policy will accomplish its 
     intended objective? Second, does it do more harm than good? 
     Present U.S. policy fails both of these tests.
       Economic sanctions are always problematic, as we've seen in 
     the case of Iraq, where the entire international community is 
     united. But unilateral sanctions do not work. The United 
     States is a powerful country and arguably the sole superpower 
     in the world. However, it cannot impose its will on Iran 
     without the support of many other countries that maintain 
     diplomatic and commercial relations with that country. At 
     present, there are only two countries in the world that think 
     the U.S. embargo strategy is a good idea; the United States 
     and Israel. If you like, we can add Uzbekistan to that list. 
       But not one of Iran's major trading partners has indicated 
     a willingness to join in this embargo.
       This was not a surprise. The U.S. government did not 
     consult in advance with any other government before the 
     signing of the executive order on May 6. We knew that no 
     other government would support it, so we didn't bother. 
     Although this is a form of economic warfare, we did not raise 
     it at the U.N. Security Council because we knew our position 
     would attract no support.
       We took this very grave step for our own reasons in the 
     certain knowledge that it would not have the kind of 
     international support that would, in fact, make it 
       The United States in the past has undertaken unilateral 
     sanctions as a matter of principle, even when we were unable 
     to forge an international consensus. One example is the grain 
     embargo against the Soviet Union. However, in that case, 
     there was a triggering event: The invasion of Afghanistan. 
     In this 

[[Page S 16684]]
     case, as Ellen just pointed out, there was no triggering event.
       We knew other nations would not follow our lead--in fact, 
     we counted on it. Although we have chosen not to purchase any 
     Iranian oil, we really do not want to have Iran's 2.5 million 
     barrels a day of exports withdrawn from the world market. 
     That would create chaos in the oil markets and a very 
     substantial increase in price that could affect our own rate 
     of inflation as well as that of the rest of the world.
       In reality, we have been hurting Iran very, very severely 
     over the past several years. Oil, as you know, is denominated 
     in dollars, and the decline in the value of the dollar has 
     substantially reduced Iran's purchasing power. To put it 
     another way, in recent years, the real price of oil for Japan 
     has declined by over 70 percent because of the dollar's 
     decline against the yen. This has a real effect on the 
     Iranian economy but is inadvertent and unrelated to the 
     sanctions we are adopting.
       One of the weaknesses of our policy is its 
     disproportionality. We are in the process of adopting much 
     more stringent sanctions against Iran than we imposed against 
     the Soviet Union, which was a real threat to U.S. national 
     security, even at the height of the Cold War.
       Let me give you a couple of small examples. Against all 
     odds, the Coca-Cola Company managed to reestablish itself in 
     Iran some years ago. Local soft-drink producers in Iran were 
     outraged. Many of them are owned by parasitic revolutionary 
     so-called foundations. This, they said, was a reintroduction 
     of the Great Satan into Iran. Even worse, it cut into their 
     profits. They asked their leader for a fatwa prohibiting good 
     Iranians from drinking Coca-Cola, but he refused. However, 
     the Clinton fatwa will succeed where the hard-line 
     revolutionaries failed, by forcing Coca-Cola to withdraw from 
     the Iranian market.
       Tehran is holding its annual book fair this month. Several 
     American publishers withdrew from the exhibition after 
     hearing of the executive order. Frankly, I wish Iranians had 
     access to American books. I think that's our loss.
       Federal Express and UPS have both terminated their service 
     to Iran. I was planning to send some materials to a colleague 
     of mine in Iran, a political scientist, about a conference 
     that we have planned, and I'm now going to have to find some 
     other way to do it.
       Can I subscribe to an Iranian journal or newspaper, or is 
     that trade with Iran?
       Although the executive order is not intended to interfere 
     with normal academic contacts and freedom of expression, it's 
     going to have a chilling effect in many little ways. It will 
     impede or interrupt our few existing channels of reliable 
     information about what is being said and though and done in 
     Iran, and we need that information.
       Our policy is also based on some false premises. I was 
     struck by Secretary [of State Warren] Christopher's recent 
     statement to an interviewer. He said, ``We must isolate Iraq 
     and Iran until there is a change in their government, a 
     change in their leadership.''
       That statement recalls a very similar comment made by 
     Defense Secretary [Casper] Weinberger some years ago, when he 
     said, ``There must be a totally different kind of government 
     in Iran, because we cannot deal with the irrational, 
     fanatical government of the kind they now have.''
       These offhand comments, calling, in effect, for the 
     overthrow of the government, seem more consistent with 
     U.S. actions and the reality of U.S. policy than the 
     repeated official assurances that we heard this morning 
     that we accept the Iranian revolution as a fact and that 
     it is not our objective to try to overthrow it. The voices 
     of our leaders suggest otherwise, at least when they are 
     caught off guard.
       Our policies do make Iran's life more difficult in many 
     ways, but the notion that we're going to drive it into 
     bankruptcy and thereby bring down the Islamic government are 
     romantic and infantile pipe dreams. The Iranian government is 
     under great stress due to its own mismanagement of its 
     economy. About one-third of Iran's oil revenues this year 
     will go to pay off its creditors as a result of a consumer 
     import binge following the end of the Iran-Iraq War.
       Iranians are dissatisfied with the economy and they are not 
     shy about making their views known. There will be change, but 
     it will take the shape of reforms to the existing system, not 
     of collapse or overthrow. There is no viable political 
     alternative to the present system. We may not like this 
     regime, but we're going to have to live with it. We are not 
     going to bring it down by an act of self-flagellation.
       Our policy of demonizing Iran has affected our own 
     credibility in a number of areas. For example, the recent 
     State Department report on international terrorism in 1994 
     states that Iran is still the most active state sponsor of 
     international terrorism. But if you read the report--and I 
     have read it now three or four times--it is remarkably silent 
     on evidence.
       When Secretary Christopher recently claimed that Iran was 
     responsible for the bombing of the Argentine-Israel Mutual 
     Association in Buenos Aires last July, the Argentine foreign 
     minister immediately wrote a letter to Christopher asking him 
     for any verification or evidence that he had, but he said to 
     reporters at the same time that he wrote the letter, ``We do 
     not expect any news. There is no more information now than 
     there was in December.'' There have been no arrests. The 
     principal U.S. source, who was a paid informant of the CIA, 
     has been discredited, and the Argentine government is 
     resuming normal relations with Iran.
       There are other major flaws in the terrorism report that in 
     some respects, make it more of a propaganda tract than a 
     serious statement of fact. The United States is reportedly 
     spending $4 million on a propaganda campaign designed to 
     destabilize Iran. It's one thing to conduct propaganda 
     against another state, but there is a real danger if we start 
     believing it ourselves.
       The nuclear issue is simple. We do not want Iran to get the 
     bomb, and on that we are joined by virtually every government 
     in the world, notably including Russia, which does not want 
     to see the emergency of a nuclear-weapons state on its 
     southern borders. Again, the question is not the goal, but, 
     rather, how we get there from here.
       The United States, in my view, has manufactured an 
     unnecessary crisis by focusing its attention on the sale of 
     nuclear power stations to Iran. Granted, all of us might 
     prefer to see Iran completely devoid of any nuclear 
     infrastructure, but we have diluted our moral and political 
     authority by attempting to deny to Iran a right that is 
     enshrined in the very terms of the Nuclear Nonproliferation 
     Treaty [NPT] that we just recently fought so hard and 
     successfully to sustain.
       The NPT explicitly promises in Article IV that states in 
     compliance with the treaty will have access to peaceful 
     nuclear technology. Iran is in compliance. The power stations 
     that Iran is buying from Russia and China are no different 
     from those we are offering free to North Korea in order to 
     gain their compliance with the NPT.
       Our decision to focus on the sale of power stations is a 
     case of superpower swagger. We suggest that the rules of 
     international law apply only when we say they apply. That 
     attitude is not popular even among those states which have 
     good reason to fear Iran.
       I believe that one of the reasons Iran is seeking nuclear 
     power stations is as part of a broader effort to develop a 
     nuclear infrastructure that would permit it to build a 
     nuclear weapon. Iran fought a bloody eight-year war with 
     Iraq, and I am sure that they were just as shocked as we were 
     to discover how close Saddam Hussein had come to having a 
     nuclear weapon, especially knowing that it most likely would 
     have been used on them, just as chemical weapons were.
       They may also have the mistaken notion that nuclear weapons 
     will provide some form of insurance against superpower 
     intervention, having watched Iraq go down to defeat with such 
     apparent ease after they themselves had been beaten on the 
     battlefield by that same army. The Iranians almost certainly 
     wish to shorten the time required to build their own weapon 
     if they see the threat again emerging on one of their 
       It's worth noting in passing that we should be careful 
     about using the argument that Iran does not need nuclear 
     power because it has so much oil and gas. The two are really 
     not mutually exclusive. Russia has the greatest gas reserves 
     in the world. It also has the largest nuclear power industry 
     in the world.
       In reality, Iran is currently short of gas. Every bit of 
     Iran's gas is being used domestically, and there is no 
     surplus. It is also, increasingly, short of energy. Its 
     domestic needs for electricity and heating are increasing 
     faster than it can produce them.
       In addition to nuclear power, which may be a silly 
     solution, Iran is involved in major efforts to develop wind 
     power, thermal power and hydroelectric power. I would note in 
     passing that the Japanese loans that we are arguing so hard 
     to try to stop are for a dam on the Karun River in the south 
     that is designed to produce hydroelectric power.
       The Conoco deal that we were so outraged about and 
     interfered with was an attempt to develop a gas field in the 
     south that would increase their supply of gas. I argue that 
     we are shooting ourselves in the foot repeatedly. Our recent 
     policies have tended to thwart Iran's development of non-
     nuclear alternative energy sources.
       But these facts, regardless of one's interpretation, are 
     not an argument for complacency about the nuclear issue. 
     Instead, in my view, our policy should focus on the central 
     issue of nuclear-weapons development. A sensible U.S. policy 
     should have the following objectives: First, we and our 
     allies and all prospective nuclear suppliers should convince 
     Iran to renounce technologies that provide direct access to 
     weapons fuel, specifically enrichment. That, of course, 
     includes centrifuge technology and reprocessing.
       To that end, we should pressure Russia to reaffirm its 
     adherence to the nuclear suppliers' guidelines which go 
     beyond the NPT in restricting export of these two dangerous 
     technologies. We should also do everything in our power to 
     tighten the international regime, the successor to COCOM, to 
     prevent sale of long-range delivery systems which could be 
     used with nuclear weapons.
       Second, any training of Iranians should be limited to what 
     it takes to operate a reactor, rather than providing broad 
     access to nuclear technology.
       Third, we should insist on clear-cut agreements about the 
     disposal of spent fuel from the reactors. Iran has said that 
     it would return the nuclear waste to Russia, but we need to 
     ensure that there are safeguards at every stage to ensure 
     that both the fuel is returned and that Iran exercises no 
     control over that fuel once it has been returned--

[[Page S 16685]]
     again, a crucial point, and something that can be done in the 
     agreements that Russia is signing with Iran.
       Finally, we should take Iran at its word that it will 
     permit frequent and intrusive inspections by the IAEA 
     [International Atomic Energy Agency] on demand and with 
     little or no advance notice. That should be an absolute 
     condition of any continuing nuclear power assistance which 
     Iran will require for the next decade or more. I would also 
     add that might be useful to explore this idea that's been 
     raised recently by the United Nations Association of a 
     nuclear rapporteur who would conduct independent 
     investigations to explore evidence of nuclear-weapons 
     development around the world and report directly to the 
     Security Council.
       All of these steps are things that we could do, and a 
     negotiating package that is composed of these elements and 
     perhaps others of a more technical nature would be greeted by 
     understanding and sympathy by most if not all of our friends 
     and allies. It is consistent with international law and is in 
     the immediate national interests of potential nuclear 
     suppliers themselves. In short, it offers what our present 
     policy does not: a workable strategy to achieve our most 
     important objectives.
       Our present policy is not really a strategy, since it lacks 
     a definable endgame. It rails against Iran's behavior, but 
     really doesn't offer anything like a credible roadmap for 
     changing it. And pious hopes that Iran is suddenly going to 
     change its spots really don't suffice, especially when we're 
     making such stringent efforts as we are.
       So, in closing, let me suggest a five-point framework for 
     U.S. policy. I do so in the full understanding that any such 
     suggestions are probably fated to fall on deaf ears in the 
     present political climate in Washington.
       First, we should cool the rhetoric for a while. At times 
     lately, we have sounded more shrill and ideological than the 
     ayatollahs. Let's put the thesaurus aside for a while. We 
     don't need any more synonyms for rogue, outlaw, or even 
     backlash, whatever that means.
       Second, let's take some time to get our priorities 
     straight. Iran may be bad, but it's not all bad, and some of 
     the actions are worse than others. If the nuclear issue is at 
     the top of our agenda, and that's where I think it should be, 
     let's put together a strategy that addresses the central 
     issues, rather than painting everything with the same brush.
       Third, let's begin to develop a strategy that engages our 
     allies and lets us work with them, instead of bullying them 
     and ignoring their own legitimate interests. Despite what 
     Ellen said, I think that's what we've been doing.
       Fourth, we should adopt a policy of selective neglect. When 
     we disagree with Iran or find its behavior outrageous and 
     unacceptable, we should say so, but where we see improvement 
     in their policies--and there are, in fact, areas of 
     improvement that we could talk about--we should not be afraid 
     to acknowledge them or at least to remain silent. Distorting 
     the truth in the pursuit of a policy is demeaning to us as a 
     nation and ultimately self-defeating.
       Finally, we should apply the Waco test. Yes, we have over 
     there what we perceive as an encampment of religious 
     extremists. They propound ideas that offend us. They are 
     armed, and they may represent a danger to the neighborhood. 
     But we should never forget that no matter how bad it is, our 
     policies, if misconceived, can make it worse for everyone 

  RICHARD COTTAM, university professor of political science emeritus, 
                        University of Pittsburgh

       I want to talk about two things primarily: one, the long-
     run trends in Iran; two, Iranian intentions, as I see them.
       I want to begin with something you all remember but I think 
     need to be reminded of and that is in December of 1978, on a 
     religious holiday, eight million people, journalists tell 
     us, demonstrated in Iran against that shah's regime. That 
     would be one out of every five, even though they knew that 
     attack helicopters could be used against them. Two months 
     later, the revolution was successful. It was without 
     question, I think, the greatest populist revolution in 
     human history.
       In days following that revolution it began to unravel, and 
     the liberal element, which was very important in the 
     directorship of the revolution itself, began to desert or to 
     be regurgitated. A terrible process began to take place that 
     we haven't noted enough the development, wherever resurgent 
     Islam appears, of a polarization of the populations with two 
     sections of people, one religious and one secular, starting 
     to dislike each other to a point of intensity that is almost 
     genocidal. It takes place everywhere. In a better world, what 
     we on the outside should want to do is to try to bring about 
     some kind of reconciliation of these forces. Strangely 
     enough, our policy in Algeria seems to show slight signs of 
     doing exactly that.
       Within a year of the revolution, the polarization was 
     pretty well complete in Iran. There was a regime pole, which 
     I would estimate, for what it's worth, at about 20 percent of 
     the population. And that pole followed Khomeini's great 
     leadership (that was their view of him). And within that 
     group there were two major factions or tendencies as they 
     called them, one you could call reform and one revolutionary. 
     Khomeini's decisional style was such that he didn't allow 
     either of these factions really to win and consolidate.
       The result was that within the bureaucracy itself, many 
     bureaucrats reported to very different elements in the 
     revolutionary elite. Although there has been some 
     consolidation of control, this is still a phenomenon and 
     probably has a lot to do with explaining the assassinations 
     of Iranian dissidents abroad.
       An intransigent opposition developed that looked almost 
     exclusively to the United States for salvation. And then 
     there appeared the phenomenon of a substantial majority of 
     the Iranians--a large acquiescing and accommodating majority 
     of the country--who saw no alternative to the regime, 
     accepted it and wanted to go on with their lives.
       Fifteen years later, the change is very substantial. The 
     radical leadership has been defeated. It was rather 
     decisively defeated, although remnants, I believe, still are 
     in the bureaucracy. Its support base has shrunk even further, 
     I'm not allowed in Iran, one of the few Americans who is not 
     acceptable there. But people whom I respect who go all the 
     time have estimated that between 15 and 1.5 percent of the 
     population really supports the regime. It's a very 
     dangerously low level of support. I agree with Gary Sick that 
     it's not likely that there will be any kind of revolution. 
     But what is possible with this level of support is a 
     spontaneous uprising against a miserable economic situation 
     which could get out of control and go to something 
       I think the major failing, though, of the regime has been 
     its failure to recruit a significant section of the 
     intelligentsia. The revolution has lost its vitality. It is 
     now a revolution striving to survive. [Ali] Khamenei, the 
     supreme leader of Iran is, a sincere advocate of the Islamic 
     movement, but he did participate in the defeat of the radical 
     element. And the president, [Ali Akbar Hashemi] Rafsanjani, 
     is, I believe, a realistic individual who's very interested 
     in reconciliation and would move far in the direction of 
     bringing people together if he had the latitude to do that.
       The intransigent opposition, I think, can be largely 
     disregarded. It's important in the expatriate community, but 
     it seems to have virtually no real meaning within Iran 
     itself. Center stage today is held by the accommodationists 
     and the acquiescers. This is now a huge majority that 
     dominates the universities to a striking extent, both 
     faculty and student body. It dominates the progressive 
     element of the economic community. It's omnipresent even 
     in the bureaucracy and in the professions. It therefore 
     has created a picture that is very different from what 
     we've seen in the past and one that we should take 
     seriously into account.
       This large majority grants the regime very little 
     legitimacy and in the past has been unwilling even to explore 
     the possibility of engaging it and becoming part of the 
     system. It is right now showing signs of a willingness to do 
     that. The Freedom Front, for instance, has openly told 
     American reporters that it's thinking of running for 
     parliament in the elections. They certainly believe the 
     liberalization process and the growth of pluralism are a real 
     possibility in Iran.
       In foreign policy, this group is very different from the 
     regime. It has no interest in messianic Islam. It isn't 
     interested in the peace process or the Arab-Israeli dispute. 
     There is very little support from this large majority of the 
     Iranian people for an activist policy in support of what we 
     think the Iranian government is up to. I think this is a fact 
     that is extremely important.
       This majority is, however, extremely nationalistic. And 
     those barren islands [Abu Musa and the Tunbs] sitting in the 
     Gulf are more important to it than any of these other issues 
     I've mentioned. We could easily offend this very 
     nationalistic element of the population. It yearns for 
     rapprochement with the United States and for a return to the 
     international system. It doesn't like to be a pariah state. 
     It wants to interact. it wants to become prosperous. It's 
     deeply disappointed in U.S. hostility, finding it 
     increasingly bemusing.
       To return to the question of the regime's intentions, 
     first, I would say, is to position itself favorably in the 
     global economic system. A good competitive position for its 
     oil is vital for the survival of the regime itself. I believe 
     it will make that its first priority in its foreign policy.
       Second, this regime believes that America, collaborating 
     with Israel, is ineluctably hegemonic in its ambitions. The 
     Iranian regime feels terribly threatened and believes that 
     the danger is from us. When it thinks in terms of arming 
     itself, it's almost pathetic. It can't seriously think in 
     terms of deterring us if we took it on directly. It can only 
     think in terms of deterring our puppets, as they see it, who 
     might attack them.
       The most difficult part for me in making this case to you, 
     I believe, is this point: that as far as Islam is concerned, 
     the regime has stopped talking about becoming the great 
     leaders of an Islamic state. The imam of the umah was the 
     title for Khomeini, the leader of the entire community of 
     believers. In its place there is a much more defensive 
       I don't mean to understate the importance of Islam for this 
     regime. There are four external communities that it is 
     particularly interested in helping, Islamic communities 

[[Page S 16686]]
     that it sees as under attack. These are the Shia communities of Iraq 
     and Lebanon, the Palestinians and the Bosnian Muslims. It 
     sees its support for all four of these as an integral part of 
     the same policy.
       It understands that some of these groups resort to the 
     tactics of terror, but I have not seen evidence to indicate 
     that Iran ever pinpoints any appropriations, any money that 
     it gives, for that purpose. It would trivialize the 
     communities we're talking about to assume so. Iran does not 
     see itself as supporting terrorism. It sees itself as 
     supporting regimes that are fighting for their lives or for 
     the return of their property, of their territory. And it's a 
     sincere belief. They are bemused, again, by our depicting all 
     of this as support for terrorism.
       I want to quickly give Iran's rationale for opposing the 
     peace process because I think it is underestimated and 
     misunderstood. It's not an irrational position. They argue 
     thus: one, the Arab-Israeli conflict is obviously highly 
     asymmetrical, and that asymmetry in Israel's favor is 
     declining. The reason for this is the appearance of major 
     popular movements. Hezbollah and the intifada in 
     particular, have improved the overall power picture in the 
     relationship between Israel and the Palestinians. Given 
     this favorable trend, this is the wrong time for peace 
       Second, the negotiations are being mentored by Israel's 
     protector, a country that promises the Israelis eternal 
     superiority in dealing with the Arabs. This adds to the 
     asymmetry and is not a format that the Iranians think they 
     would like to participate in.
       Third, there has been no effort in this major movement to 
     deal explicitly with Islamic spokesmen in a process that 
     affects their lives intensely. This seems to indicate that 
     this large and vital movement is to be disregarded. Iran's 
     position, therefore, I believe, is exactly the same as the 
     position of resurgent Islam everywhere, and it isn't one they 
     can just bargain away. That's not a possibility for them. 
     They believe that even if there is a resolution between 
     Israel and the Palestinians, it will not last, because too 
     much of the population has been disregarded in the process.
       At the same time, if you look in terms of man hours spent 
     on diplomacy, Iran is expending extremely little effort in 
     opposing the process. It has, in effect, said that if [Syrian 
     president Hafiz al-] Asad makes an agreement with the 
     Israelis, it will think it's a mistake, but it will go along 
     with the agreement.
       I need to spend also just a minute on a very big subject 
     which Gary Sick has talked about: nuclear weaponry. I do not 
     believe the United States has seriously addressed the problem 
     of Iran, the Arab states and many other countries in the 
     world on this issue. There are many states that believe they 
     may someday be given a nuclear ultimatum with no possibility 
     of support from another nuclear power.
       In the Middle East, the nuclear power that they expect the 
     ultimatum from is Israel. And no one in that area believes 
     for one second that the United States or any other nuclear 
     power would help them if Israel were to issue an ultimatum. 
     Consequently, since they think this is a realistic scenario, 
     they are going to try to defend themselves against it. I 
     think they have done very, very little in that direction so 
     far. They've made clear that they want a nuclear-free zone in 
     the area, but I would assume that any Iranian government, 
     including a future Iranian nationalist government, would have 
     to develop nuclear weapons unless this point is dealt with by 
     the international community. I do not believe we have been 
     serious on this issue at its most fundamental level.
       In summary, then, I'm arguing that the United States has 
     misread Iran's intentions. Much more seriously, it has 
     misread basic fundamental trends in Iran, most of which are 
     favorable to American goals, and is taking actions that are 
     likely to reverse those trends. The worst case in my view is 
     for American policy ultimately to so anger Iranian 
     nationalists that they will become as hostile to the United 
     States as Iranian nationalists were under the shah's regime. 
     Therefore, the policy that I would prefer is the policy Gary 
     Sick calls ``playing it cool.''
       I don't think dialogue means much at all. There are too 
     many misperceptions of each other's intentions. To have 
     people who totally misunderstand each other talking doesn't 
     seem likely to produce much. But let's just stop punishing 
     Iran gratuitously and allow trends that are moving in the 
     direction of a real change in the area to proceed as they're