Iran remains the top problem for the United States in the Middle East, according to U.S. National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley. At a speech in Washington about U.S. foreign policy, Mr. Hadley spoke of the difficulties the Iranian regime continues to pose, difficulties that must be confronted by the upcoming Obama administration:
"The biggest challenge in this region is Iran. Negotiations with Iran, as some have proposed, without leverage on Iran will not produce a change in Iranian behavior or advance U.S. interests. The outgoing administration and its international partners will leave the incoming team with significantly increased leverage on Iran. The issue is how the new team will use this leverage to produce a different Iranian policy on its nuclear program, terrorism and Middle East peace."
In an interview with the Associated Press, Mr. Hadley said it "would be foolish to talk without leverage, because talking and negotiating without leverage won't get you a deal that will advance your interests."
Mr. Hadley said that the successful efforts of the United States in recent years to strengthen ties with Europe have made it possible for the Obama administration to be able to enforce tougher sanctions on Iran in order to pressure the regime to change its destructive policies.
Mr. Hadley said that the biggest threat to the United States and to the stability of the world would be "the world's most dangerous weapons falling into the hands of the world's most dangerous terrorists." And all the elements of national power – including diplomatic, economic and military – must be integrated to advance the cause of peace.
"When properly employed," said Mr. Hadley, these tools can be mutually reinforcing. Hard power makes soft power more effective. And by maintaining the credible threat of military force and economic sanctions, we add weight to our diplomacy."