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Rice On Pressuring Iran

Speaking in Washington at a conference of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called the Iranian government a threat to peace. She cited Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions, its support for extremists in Iraq and Lebanon, and the stated desire of its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, that Israel be "wiped off the map."

Secretary of State Rice said that the United States continues to use diplomacy to try to induce the Iranian regime to change its policies. By diplomacy, Secretary of State Rice said, the U.S. means "structuring a set of incentives and disincentives to produce change in behavior":

"On the one hand, we are showing the rulers of Iran that if they think the best way to advance their national interests is through lying, and cheating, and terror, they will only deepen their isolation and the cost to their nation. The Iranian government is dangerous. Yet Iran has vulnerabilities: its failing, inflationary economic policies; its discredited revolutionary ideology, the resentment that its violent behavior fosters among its neighbors, and the deprivation of its people at home. We can and must exploit these vulnerabilities."

The passage of three resolutions by the U.N. Security Council imposing sanctions on Iran was a positive move, said Ms. Rice. So were additional steps taken by the U.S. to pressure Iran, including the sanctioning of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, its Qods force, and three of its major banks for abusing the international financial system. But the world needs to do more, said Ms. Rice:

"Our partners, in Europe and beyond, need to exploit Iran’s vulnerabilities more vigorously and impose greater costs on the regime – economically, financially, politically, and diplomatically."

Secretary of State Rice said that the U.S. has made clear a path is open for Iran to improve its relations with the international community and with the United States. That path, as the U.N. Security Council has stipulated, requires Iran to suspend its enrichment and reprocessing activities. If Iran takes that step, said Ms. Rice, she will join with her colleagues on the Security Council and meet to talk with Iran "on any issue."

"But not while they continue to inch closer to a nuclear weapon under the cover of talk," said Ms. Rice. "For the sake of peace, the world must not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon."