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Bush And Burns On Iran's Threat

President George W. Bush recently described the challenge posed by the clerical regime in Iran:

"Imagine a Middle East with an Iran with a nuclear weapon threatening free nations and trying to promote their vision of extremism through Hezbollah?"

Nicholas Burns, U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, says that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his supporters "are attempting to make Iran once again a revolutionary power":

"They're seeking radical change inside Iran by returning to the zeal and purity, as they see it, of the early years of the [Iranian] revolution under the Ayatollah [Ruhollah] Khomenei."

That translates, says Mr. Burns, into a renewed domestic campaign against journalists, intellectuals, and democratic activists, and earns the regime a record as one of the worst human rights abusers in the world. In foreign policy, Mr. Burns says, Iran's rulers are also pursuing an aggressive course, including "their arming of Hezbollah with long-range rockets to strike Israel":

"This past summer they held a million Israeli civilians hostage during that campaign. They're [pursuing] efforts to create a nexus of terrorism as they have routinely held summit meetings and planning meetings with Syria, with Hamas, with Hezbollah, with Islamic Jihad and with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine General Command."

"This is a newly aggressive foreign policy; it is different from what we have seen in recent years," says Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns:

"It is expressed most ominously in what most countries around the world conclude to be a national effort by Iran to acquire a nuclear weapons capability."

The United States is confident that if given a genuine opportunity to choose its leaders freely and fairly, the Iranian people would make a very different choice, says Mr. Burns. "They would choose leaders who invest in development at home rather than bloodshed abroad and a system that respects all faiths, empowers all citizens, and resumes Iran's historic place as a regional leader."

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