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Present U.S. Policy towards Iran

Currently, the United States has adopted a strategic policy aimed at economically isolating Iran as well as its neighbor and historical enemy Iraq. This has been done to militarily stabilize the region as well as to maintain the balance of power in the Middle East. The Clinton Administration established this directive and labeled it the dual containment policy. Its main objectives when first introduced in May 1993 were five-fold:• Attempt to end Iran’s support of international terrorism.
• Stop Iran from supporting Hamas and its efforts toward sabotaging the Arab-Israeli peace process.
• Eliminate Iran’s international subversion through support of Islamic movements in Sudan and elsewhere.
• Have the Iranian leadership recognize civil human rights.
• Prevent the Islamic Republic from acquiring weapons of mass- destruction.
More than eight years later, these principal objectives have not changed. America’s dual containment policy was, and still is aimed at preserving the balance of power in this region by containing the destabilizing effect of local aggressors. At the same time Washington is protecting its own interests with assistance from other Gulf States and Israel. To accomplish the five strategic objectives of the dual containment policy, the United States has tried several approaches. On the economic front, Washington continues to aggressively oppose Iran’s requests for loans from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. On the political front, the United States has maintained automatic opposition to Iranian candidates for posts in international organizations. In addition, America incessantly has solicited help from the European Union, Japan, Russia, and China for political, economic and technological support at more effectively tightening the noose around the Islamic Regime of Iran. However, the results of these actions have, at times, been less than promising. There are several reasons for this comparatively ineffective U.S. policy. For one, Iran is much too large, and geopolitically important to be isolated by unilateral measures alone. Iran’s oil deposits, which make up greater than 9 percent of the world’s oil reserves, are too significant in the world's international energy supplies. In addition, Iran is physically sandwiched between the oil rich areas of the Caspian Sea and Persian Gulf, and is located at the international crossroads of Central Asia and the Middle East. It soon becomes apparent to any nation's foreign policymaker that Iran’s geographic location is too strategic to be ignored. While the European Union has long recognized the importance of Iran on the world stage and has made attempts to restore its ties with the Islamic regime; the United States’ current policy is inherently distrustful and hostile toward the Islamic Republic. America’s current policies, which encourage the collapse of the Islamic regime may be unrealistic, and may prove dangerous to moderate forces within Iran. After more than eight years of pursuing dual containment, it appears that only one of the original five objectives has been meet: Iran still has yet to declare acquisition of nuclear weapons. It becomes apparent, then, that the current policy towards Iran may only "contain" a problem state for the very short-term. Dual containment is not likely to reduce future conventional or nuclear threats that an alienated and aggravated Iran poses to regional security. Washington may need to begin to find different strategies to engage Iran. American policy objectives should look to integrate Iran into regional security and the global economic environment before it becomes a nuclear power. Then, once Iran becomes nuclearized, the United States will have made inroads to communicate with the Islamic regime that better articulate America’s military and political "red lines".