Home > 2003-2007 from USA, Iran, US foreign policy, USA > Bush pressed to pursue ‘regime change’ in Iran

Bush pressed to pursue ‘regime change’ in Iran

June 17, 2003

Financial Times June 17, 2003

By Guy Dinmore in Washington

-Sam Brownback, Republican senator for Kansas, told the Financial Times he
had support at a high level from the Pentagon for a bill to support
peaceful regime change in Iran and that he would consider expanding his
proposed Iran Democracy Act to include funding for covert operations.
“There was a substantial group in the government that was pushing to engage
with the reformists in Iran,” the senator said, referring to officials in
the State Department. “Now they are coming to the view that we should
confront aggressively the regime in Iran.” -More than $50m would be
provided to support opposition Iranian groups and broadcasters adopting
this goal. Mr Brownback said it was possible that a provision for covert
operations would also be included.

Conservative US Republicans, backed by some Democrats, are seizing on
anti-government protests in Tehran as an opportunity to press the Bush
administration to adopt “regime change” in Iran as official policy.

Sam Brownback, Republican senator for Kansas, told the Financial Times he
had support at a high level from the Pentagon for a bill to support
peaceful regime change in Iran and that he would consider expanding his
proposed Iran Democracy Act to include funding for covert operations.

Mr Brownback said a week of anti-government demonstrations in Tehran had
contributed to a shift in the Bush administration’s thinking on how to
reshape its Iran policy, which is under review.

“There was a substantial group in the government that was pushing to engage
with the reformists in Iran,” the senator said, referring to officials in
the State Department. “Now they are coming to the view that we should
confront aggressively the regime in Iran.”

Mr Brownback said the administration had not taken a stand on his
legislation, proposed six weeks ago. Asked about the view of the Pentagon,
he said he had not contacted Donald Rumsfeld, defence secretary, but that
his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, was “generally supportive”.

President George W. Bush on Sunday declared his support for the Tehran
protesters, but a source close to the White House said the administration
was reluctant to adopt a “regime change” approach to Iran, which remains
alongside North Korea in the Bush administration’s “axis of evil”.

This hesitation to embark on another foreign campaign stems from what the
source called the president’s realisation that the Pentagon had been
ill-prepared for the postwar reconstruction effort in Iraq and resistance
to US occupation.

The Iran Democracy Act would be similar in approach to the Iraq Liberation
Act passed by Congress in 1998 which adopted regime change in Baghdad as
the policy goal. The Iran bill would make it US policy to “support an
internationally monitored referendum in Iran by which the Iranian people
can peacefully change the system of government in Iran”.

More than $50m would be provided to support opposition Iranian groups and
broadcasters adopting this goal. Mr Brownback said it was possible that a
provision for covert operations would also be included.

Richard Boucher, State Department spokesman, said that from his “vantage
point” the administration was only involved in expressing “our moral
support, our rhetorical support, our solidarity with the demonstrators”.

In the House of Representatives, Brad Sherman, a California Democrat, is
planning to introduce similar legislation which would also halt the limited
trade with Iran initiated by the Clinton administration.

There are also proposals to block non-US companies investing in Iran from
being awarded contracts in Iraq.

US diplomatic efforts to censure Iran for its alleged contravention of its
nuclear safeguards commitments have met only partial success this week at a
board meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna.

Diplomats said major nations are set to agree today that Iran should take
rapid action to address international concerns about its allegedly
clandestine nuclear programme. But the 35-member board is unlikely to adopt
a formal resolution condemning Iran.

Additional reporting by Gillian Tett in Vienna
===

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: