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Rice On Iranian Challenge

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says that the policies of the clerical regime in Iran pose a very serious threat:

"We may face no greater challenge from a single country than from Iran, whose policies are directed at developing a Middle East that would be one hundred and eighty degrees different than the Middle East that we would like to see develop."

Ms. Rice says the determination of Iran's rulers to develop nuclear weapons is only one reason to be concerned:

"It is the country that is the central banker for terrorism, whether that terrorism is in southern Iraq or in the Palestinian territories or in Lebanon. And in all of those cases, Iranian support for terrorism is retarding and in some cases, helping to arrest the growth of democratic and stable governments. And Iran, of course, has a terrible human rights effort and [is] a country in which an unelected few are frustrating the desires and wishes of the Iranian people for democracy."

The Bush administration, says Secretary of State Rice, has asked Congress for an additional seventy-five million dollars to promote the cause of freedom in Iran:

"We have proposed money that would be used for innovation in our efforts to reach the Iranian people through websites and modern technology. We have also proposed that we would be able to support non-governmental organizations that can function in Iran and in many ways, most importantly, to improve and increase our educational and cultural outreach to the people of Iran."

Ms. Rice says that while Iran's clerical regime "will be isolated if it continues down this path," the U.S. will "not isolate the Iranian people":

"These programs are in many ways critical to not isolating the Iranian people. We do not have a problem with the Iranian people. We want the Iranian people to be free."

"Our problem is with the Iranian regime," says Secretary of State Rice.

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.