Danielle Pletka: Good morning, everyone. Thanks for your patience. I'm Danielle Pletka. I'm the Vice President for Foreign and Defense Policy Studies here at the American Enterprise Institute. We are having, which we often do, but I'm pleased that we're having an especially timely event today. The Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency is meeting to discuss the problem of Iran and to decide, almost certainly positively, to refer the problem of Iran's nuclear program to the United Nations Security Council. It could happen today, it could happen tomorrow, it could happen the day after that, but it looks like it will actually happen this time. And so, we are going to talk about some of the issues surrounding the question of Iran's nuclear problem and program and the problem that it presents for the United States and the international community.
As those of you who signed up early for the event know, we hoped to have Matthew Gould, who is the Political Counselor at the British Embassy and the former Deputy Chief of Mission for the United Kingdom in Iran speak on our panel today. Unfortunately, he had to cancel at the last moment, and so we turned to the Department of State and asked them if they wanted to send us somebody to talk a little bit about the diplomacy that is going on right now. This is a burning and topical issue. Normally, I don't have a lot of sway with the Department of State as many of you who know me know, but it turned out that this time I was lucky enough to actually entice somebody to come talk. And so, we are going to open our conference this morning with Acting Assistant Secretary Stephen Rademaker. I have to look at his bio. It's a little embarrassing.
Stephen Rademaker currently heads the newly created Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation at the Department of State. The bureau was created last year in September upon the merger of the Bureau of Arms Control and the Bureau of Nonproliferation. He was sworn in as the Assistant Secretary for Arms Control in August of 2002. Prior to that, he was a senior staffer in the House of Representatives and served in a variety of senior positions in various administrations before that. Stephen is going to talk for about 10 to 15 minutes and then take questions briefly.
Then we're going to turn, again briefly, to our panel. And at 11:00 - approximately 11:00, I should say - we will be joined by Senator Brownback to give a keynote address. He will focus on some of the democracy promotion questions for the United States in Iran. Without taking another minute of our time because we are very tight, thank you, Stephen, for being here. Why don't you come join us?
Stephen Rademaker: Good morning. It's a pleasure to be here. There appears to be a great deal of interest in the subject, and the events in Vienna this morning may help explain that. As Dany indicated, I will, in typical State Department fashion, begin by reading some prepared remarks, and that should take about 10 minutes. And when I've completed those remarks, I would be happy to respond to any questions those of you in the audience may have.
President Bush has made clear on numerous occasions that the paramount security challenge of our time is to prevent the world's most dangerous weapons from falling into the hands of the world's most dangerous regimes. We have reoriented U.S. national security policy to confront this challenge, and Iran today provides a key test of our efforts. Just two days ago in his State of the Union address, President Bush stated:
The Iranian Government is defying the world with its nuclear ambitions, and the nations of the world must not permit the Iranian regime to gain nuclear weapons. America will continue to rally the world to confront these threats.
We have seen encouraging signs over the past several weeks, and in particular over the past few days, of the growing determination of the international community to prevent Iran from succeeding in its quest to produce nuclear weapons. President Ahmadinejad has helped focus international attention on Iran's intentions, most famously in his speech calling for Israel to be "wiped off the map," but in fact international concern has been growing for years.
Since late 2002, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has been investigating evidence of undeclared nuclear activities and facilities in Iran. Over the past three years, the IAEA has issued nine written reports spelling out the results of its investigation. These reports document that since the mid-1980s, Iran has systematically carried out secret nuclear activities, including undeclared uranium enrichment and undeclared plutonium separation. They expressly accuse Iran of "Failure on many occasions to cooperate to facilitate implementation of safeguards, as evidenced by extensive concealment activities."
There can be little doubt that the reason Iran has purposefully concealed its nuclear fuel cycle activities for almost 20 years is because those activities are aimed at developing nuclear weapons. While the IAEA has successfully cornered the Iranians into admitting some of these activities, Iran has continued to withhold full cooperation. As IAEA Director General ElBaradei informed the IAEA Board in his September 2005 report, "In view of the fact that the Agency is not yet in a position to clarify some important outstanding issues after two and a half years of intensive inspections and investigations, Iran's full transparency is indispensable and overdue."
Estimates of the total cost of Iran's nuclear fuel cycle-related investments range from $600 million to $1 billion and higher. It is next to impossible to conclude that Iran is making investments of this magnitude other than for nuclear weapons -- especially given Iran's large oil and gas reserves, its lack of any functioning nuclear reactors, and Russia's contractual commitment to supply fuel for the one reactor currently under construction for at least the first ten years of operation.
The Iranian regime has pursued dual technological routes to attain the capability to produce fissile material for nuclear weapons. We believe Iran currently is pursuing a plutonium program through the construction of a heavy water research reactor and a heavy water plant. In addition, Iran's aggressive pursuit of uranium enrichment technology has been well documented by the IAEA and others. The construction of facilities to convert and enrich uranium is ongoing.
Just last month Iran removed IAEA seals at the Natanz Enrichment Facility and elsewhere, and stated its intention to feed UF6 into centrifuges for what it claims are "research and development" purposes. This is critically important, because once the Iranians have been able to master this technology, they will be capable of conducting large scale uranium enrichment and producing enough fissile material for nuclear weapons.
One particularly damning piece of evidence recently revealed by the IAEA is a document uncovered by inspectors indicating that Iran received information from a clandestine nuclear proliferation network on casting and machining hemispheres of uranium metal. This is alarming because there are no known applications for such hemispheres other than nuclear weapons. As with a number of other questions posed by the IAEA, Iran has yet to fully explain its dealings with this clandestine proliferation network.
An Iranian regime with nuclear weapons is simply unacceptable. It would be able to threaten strikes against U.S. forces, as well as our friends and allies in the Middle East, Europe and Asia. We know that Iran is currently producing a 1,300-km range ballistic missile known as the Shahab-3 and has expressed publicly its intention to pursue a long-range ballistic missile capability. Furthermore, we are concerned that if Iran acquires nuclear weapons, the result could be a nuclear proliferation domino effect in the region that would be devastating to the global nonproliferation regime.
So what actions are we undertaking to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon? Recognizing that international cooperation is necessary to resolve this problem, the United States has actively supported of the diplomatic efforts of the United Kingdom, France, and Germany -- the so-called EU3. We applauded the November 2004 Paris agreement between the EU3 and Iran, under which Iran promised to suspend all enrichment related activities in order to create an atmosphere conducive to negotiations. We then lent our support to the EU3's diplomatic proposal last year that offered Iran robust economic incentives and nuclear cooperation with the EU.
When Iran rejected that proposal and resumed uranium conversion this past August, the IAEA Board of Governors responded by adopting a resolution on September 24 that found Iran in noncompliance with its safeguards obligations. The Board also found that Iran's clandestine nuclear activities and the lack of confidence in its stated peaceful intentions raise questions that are within the competence of the United Nations Security Council.
It is important to note that, under Article XII.C of the IAEA Statute, a noncompliance finding requires a "report" to the Security Council. The Board's September 24 resolution expressly provided that the Board would "address the timing and content" of the required report at a later date. At the November IAEA Board meeting, despite the fact that we were confident we had a majority of votes for an immediate report to the Security Council, we supported a request by the EU to again postpone making that report, so as to broaden international support and to give Iran additional time to change course.
Despite efforts by the EU3 and entreaties by Russia to find a way forward, Iran continued to reject all serious diplomatic overtures. Last month Iran took a further step away from the Paris Agreement by removing IAEA seals in order to resume uranium enrichment activities.
This past Tuesday [January 31], the foreign ministers of the Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China, and the United States met in London and agreed that at the Extraordinary IAEA Board beginning today in Vienna, the IAEA Board should immediately report Iran to the Security Council, and that the Security Council should take up the issue after the IAEA Director General's report to the March IAEA Board meeting. Thus, our patience has paid off, as we have broadened international support to include both Russia and China.
While both President Bush and Secretary Rice have indicated that now is the time for the IAEA Board to report Iran to the Security Council, such action does not mean that diplomacy has come to an end. Rather, we will look to the Security Council to reinforce the efforts of the IAEA. We fully expect the Security Council to call upon Iran to cooperate with the IAEA. The Council may also decide to enhance the IAEA's legal authority to investigate all aspects of Iran's nuclear program.
We have traveled a bumpy road since the IAEA Board first adopted a resolution condemning Iran's failure to comply with its safeguards obligations back in November 2003, and much work lies ahead of us. But we are making progress, and the United States will remain committed to working with the EU3, Russia, China, and other members of the international community to turn Iran into a showcase example of effective multilateralism.
Danielle Pletka: Okay, we'll take a few questions. If I can just ask you to wait for the microphone, which is there, and identify yourself. And for God's sake, if you have a statement, please at least put it in the form of a question.
Audience Member: Hi, Miles Pomper from Arms Control Today. Steve, a couple questions. Dany, at the beginning report, mentioned referral to the Security Council. You talked about reporting. You're an attorney. I understand there's a distinction. And could you perhaps clarify what that distinction is?
The second part of the question is you talked about what the Security Council might do if it gets this issue in one form or the other. From what I understand, the Administration is looking for not only to reinforce the AI's power to resolve questions that it's already identified, but also to look at additional areas beyond those. For instance, Heinonen's report the other day. Could you answer that, as well?
Stephen Rademaker: Your first question is one that I know has been asked by many others, and there appears to be a great deal of confusion about referral, reporting, other forms by which the Security Council might be notified of IAEA Board action. The legal answer to your question is that this issue is governed by the IAEA statute and, in particular, Article 12C of the IAEA statute. And what Article 12C says is that in an instance where the Board of Governors reaches a noncompliance finding with respect to any country, the Board shall report - that's the term in the statute - shall report that noncompliance to the Security Council, as well as the other members of the IAEA Board and the United Nations General Assembly.
And I know there's been a lot of commentary that somehow there was a diplomatic failure on the part of the Bush Administration in London to achieve a referral at the London meeting of foreign ministers two days ago. I can assure you that, had we achieved a referral rather than a report, that would have been a failure because what is legally required under the IAEA statute is a report, and that is, in fact, what the resolution pending before the Board of Governors right now provides for, a report of the September 24 noncompliance finding to the Security Council.
And as I noted in my remarks, if you go back and look at the September 24th resolution of the Board of Governors, it expressly stated that the members of the board understood that their noncompliance finding triggered an obligation to provide a report to the Security Council and that they would address the timing and content of that report at a later date. That later date is now.
Danielle Pletka: Heinonen?
Audience Member: And the second part, just one follow on. I understand referral means [indiscernible; off microphone].
Stephen Rademaker: I don't know where that comes from. The IAEA is not divested of the Iran matter once it reports its noncompliance finding to the Security Council. And, as I indicated in my remarks, we would expect the very first steps of the Security Council to be to seek to reinforce the role of the IAEA by calling on Iran to fully cooperate with the IAEA in ways that it has not cooperated to date and, in addition, potentially to enhance the inspection authority of the IAEA.
Dr. Elbaradei, in some of his recent reports, has identified areas in which the legal authority of the IAEA to carry out its inspection of Iran's nuclear program is limited, and the Security Council would be in a position to enhance the legal authority of the IAEA to complete its investigation.
Danielle Pletka: Was there a second part of this question?
Audience Member: [indiscernible; off microphone]
Danielle Pletka: Very briefly.
Stephen Rademaker: I don't quite - I'm sorry, I missed the question.
Audience Member: These issues that have been identified by [indiscernible; off microphone] or what program? And then there's some sense that the Administration wants to have them look in areas that have not been covered so far by [indiscernible; off microphone].
Stephen Rademaker: Mr. Heinonan, who is the head of safeguards for the IAEA, has had trouble gaining access to certain sites in Iran. I can't tell you what other sites he may be seeking access to, but he has responsibility to get to the bottom of this matter. He has been denied access to certain individuals in Iran who he believes have information that would be relevant to his investigation. He has also been denied access to sites. And if there are additional sites that he wants to see, I suppose he will request such access in the future.
Audience Member: Alec Russell from the Daily Telegraph. A couple of nights ago, President Bush gave a powerful message to the Iranian people expressing his hope that one day, possibly soon, the Iranian people would be free and living in a democratic society. What is the Administration's attitude toward regime change? Is it now policy, and, if so, how is it going about doing it?
Stephen Rademaker: I'm here in my capacity today as a nonproliferation official of the Bush Administration, so my expertise on this is limited to what we are doing in the nonproliferation area. And I've described the ongoing activity at the IAEA Board. Obviously, the policy of the Bush Administration is to promote democracy worldwide and particularly in countries where people do not currently enjoy democratic freedoms, and that policy applies to Iran, as well as many other countries in the Middle East.
And President Bush spoke to this in the State of the Union address. I don't think I want to go beyond what the President said on the subject.
Audience Member: Philip Sherwell from the Sunday Telegraph. You spoke about the bumpy road we've traveled since November 2003, and you've also detailed how Iran, in the meantime, has been advancing its nuclear program. So even if we do achieve a successful multilateral diplomatic front on this issue, what confidence have you got that that will actually prevent Iran continuing to push forward with its nuclear program without now concrete, firm steps?
Stephen Rademaker: The object of our diplomacy for three years has been to persuade Iran to change course. There've been periods during the past three years where that policy seemed to be bearing fruit. But, as we know, a new government took power in Iran last August, and one of its first acts was to repudiate the Paris agreement, which created the framework for negotiations with the EU three.
Clearly, more must be done to persuade the Iranian authorities that they need to negotiate in good faith, and so the diplomatic activity currently underway is all aimed at that objective. And it is very encouraging that Russia and China have joined with us and are sending the same message that we are to the Iranians that they need to change course.
Danielle Pletka: No one else from The Telegraph? Are we sure? This gentleman here.
Audience Member: Are you concerned over possible nuclear cooperation between Iran and North Korea? There were reports last weekend suggesting that Iran might be trying to buy plutonium from North Korea.
Stephen Rademaker: I'm not going to comment on any particular report, particularly because I'm not familiar with the report that you're referring to. But I would say, generally speaking, there has been a cooperative relationship between Iran and North Korea over the years, and, from what we know of the covert nuclear proliferation network that was operating in recent years, it was involved in providing assistance to the nuclear weapons programs in both of those two countries. So the basic answer to your question is, yes, it is something that we worry about.
Audience Member: Manda Ervin. Part of my question was asked already, but let's imagine that it went to United Nations, and the United Nations Security Council voted, and they put sanction on Iran. And then what? We've had experience with Saddam Hussein. It took 12 years, and nobody did anything. So where do you see this one goes?
Stephen Rademaker: Well, when the issue of the Security Council comes up, I know that the question quickly turns to sanctions, and let me say at the outset the Security Council will only confront the question of imposing sanctions on Iran if Iran defies the mandatory decisions of the Security Council.
And I, for one, am not prepared to stipulate that Iran, should this matter reach the Security Council and should the Security Council act in a legally binding manner, adopting a resolution under Chapter 7 of the United Nations Charter, that Iran's reaction will be to continue to defy the international community. So it will only be if Iran violates its legal obligations by defying mandatory Security Council decisions that this issue of sanctions would be reached.
Audience Member: Rupert Cornwell of the London Independent. Could you please enlighten us some, what exactly is the time scale whereby Iran might have a nuclear device at some time? The Israelis seem to indicate it could be very soon. Others talk about the end of the decade. What is your best guess?
Stephen Rademaker: I'm not going to offer a best guess. I am going to offer an elaboration, though, on the point you're making. I think part of the confusion about how soon Iran might have a nuclear weapon comes from confusion between two separate things. There is the date on which Iran is likely to be able to physically possess a nuclear weapon, which is at some point in the future, and there is a date much closer in time when Iran will have all the technology, all the technical expertise, the mastery of the technology, such that it will have within its power the ability to produce a nuclear weapon when it wishes to do so.
And the immediate challenge for us is to try to make sure that the first of those dates is not reached, and the decision last month - the announcement last month - by the Iranians that they intended to resume research and development is critically important because it's the research and development that accelerates the first of those dates, the date at which they have all the technical mastery necessary to produce the fissile material for a nuclear weapon. And that's why the Paris agreement from November 2004 was vitally important because it essentially froze research and development activities, thereby postponing the date at which Iran would achieve its technical mastery.
Danielle Pletka: This will be our last question.
Audience Member: Thank you. Horatio Bazie [phonetic] from the Azerbaijani Diplomatic Commission. Well, of course, if anybody is not sure about the fact that there are 30 million other Azerbaijanis who live in Iran. My question is about IAEA representative said that some of the area did not allow in Iran to see, and then other [indiscernible] that information is gathered, there is lots of areas.
Sure, Iran compared to Iraq is a much bigger country. So example, [indiscernible] last three years, in South Azerbaijan, last three years Iranian government had a very big activity, as far as a nuclear program.
For example, in a report that I received, [indiscernible], which is very close by the Salomon [phonetic] Mountain [indiscernible] very high altitude of Salomon [phonetic] Mountain, there's lots of areas being restricted. And the reporter called Amin Wahadi [phonetic], which he reported about all these activities, 800 Russian and Ukrainian scientists doing work up there, and he was being kept arrested and tortured. And so many things happening there, of course, hopefully these are presented, they can find a lot of information about many part of the Iran. What do you think of all these areas?
Stephen Rademaker: I'm not familiar with these particular reports that you are referring to. If you have credible information, I would hope you would bring it to light. As I noted in my remarks, it was in 2002 that the IAEA began its investigation of undeclared nuclear activities in Iran, and that, I think as many of us know, that was actually in response to information that was publicly released by Iranian opposition groups. And so, there is a track record there where opponents of the Iranian regime have brought to light information that has been extremely helpful to the IAEA in carrying out its work.
Danielle Pletka: Thank you very much. We're going to turn immediately to our panel, so I'd ask people not to get up. But let's just say a quick thank you to Stephen, and come back soon. [audience applause; panel takes their seats] I count this as a great triumph that you've all remained seated, so thank you very much.
Let me just quickly introduce our other panelists and go to their presentations, which, of course, requires me to have their bios in front of me. George Perkovich is the Vice President for Studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He oversees their entire research program across all subject areas, but the reason that we have asked him to be with us here today is that his own research focuses on nuclear strategy and nonproliferation. He has a lot of very interesting things to say, and he's said many of them across the course of this happy season focusing on Iran.
Patrick Clawson is the Deputy Director for Research at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a frequent guest and a good friend. He was for five years a Senior Research Professor at National Defense University's Institute for National Strategic Studies and four years as a Senior Economist at the Foreign Policy Research Institute and at the World Bank, quite an expert on events also inside Iran. You know who I am.
George is going to start, and then we'll move straight to Patrick. Oh, I'm sorry. Patrick is going to start. I apologize. And then we'll move to George.
Patrick Clawson: Thank you. So I'm going to talk about developments inside Iran and how the nuclear program appears there, and I'm sorry to say that I think that the follow-up in the Financial Times has it quite right this morning in their page-long article titled Crude Calculation: Why Oil-Rich Iran Believes the West Will Yield to Nuclear Brinkmanship. And that many of the Iranian elite, and not just simply the new Ahmadinejad crowd seem to have concluded that, in fact, that they can stare down the West, that the West needs Iran's oil more than Iran needs the West, and that, furthermore, the West is preoccupied by other problems in the region, such as the situations in Afghanistan and Iraq, and that, furthermore, the West really isn't likely to carry through on the kinds of threats that it might make to take more forceful action against Iran.
So thinking that the West is basically divided on this matter, that the West can only achieve diplomatic unity when it's a matter of words and that, if it were a matter of any action, that, in fact, nothing much would happen, the Real Politic crowd in Iran seems to support the attitude of the hardliners. The hardliners' attitude is that the region is undergoing a second Islamic revolution. They point to the recent victory of Hamas in the Palestinian elections as proof that a hard line stance is the best approach, and that, therefore, their attitude, the attitude of these hardliners, is that the region is particularly ripe for a rekindling of revolutionary fervor.
Now, that's the consensus attitude among the Iranian elite at the moment. Unfortunately, there is then the Ahmadinejad crowd, which would go much further. It would seem quite possible - quite possible - that Ahmadinejad would welcome confrontation with the West, that he believes that confrontation with the West has very substantial advantages for Iran because it would be a good way to rekindle revolutionary fervor.
Ahmadinejad has, I think quite accurately, assessed the situation of the popular mood in Iran as one large disinterested in the Islamic message of the Islamic revolution, but has decided that nationalism is something which could be used to rekindle much of the same kind of revolutionary fervor that existed in the early years after the 1979 revolution, and that he wants to tie up the Islamic revolution with Iranian nationalism. And he sees the confrontation with the West as an excellent way to do this.
Some of my colleagues who follow Iran very closely believe that Ahmadinejad's greatest hope would be an Israeli military attack against Iran. Well, this is particularly bad news because, if Ahmadinejad is determined to get a confrontation with the West and he is allowed to proceed down that path, there is a good chance he can get one. In this context, the West's go-slow approach risks feeding Iran's blasÃ© attitude because it is distinctly possible that the Iranian elite will dismiss each small step that the West takes and say, well, we can live with that. What's the big deal here?
Let me make it clear. I have been a fan of the focus on forging international consensus, which requires going slow and taking small steps, one at a time. But I have to say that that is not working well given Iranian attitudes. Given the Iranian attitude that, well, we can outlast whatever they do, we've got a real problem. We have to find some way to rather sharply up the stakes or else Iran is going to proceed down this path. There's going to be consensus within the Iranian elite among both the Real Politik crowd and the revolutionary crowd to proceed. We have to find some way to persuade many of the Iranian elite that this is too dangerous an approach, and our current go-slow, step-by-step approach is not working on that regard.
Personally, I would think that we can, in fact, find ways to have bigger stakes that are not like bomb throwing. For instance, I would think that it would be very useful, given the statements by a number of Iranian officials over the last few months, threatening to block the Strait of Hormuz in the event of referral to the Security Council, I think it would be very useful if NATO and the GCC is part of what they both say they want to have, accelerated cooperation, were to schedule a substantial military exercise protecting the Strait to get the point across to the Iranians that we are prepared to take military actions of a deterrent and containment sort at the very least.
And I also think we should consider putting some security carrots on the table, not economic carrots, which I do not think impress Iran, which has $30 billion in foreign exchange reserves. But I mean security carrots of the sort that we used between the Warsaw Pact and NATO at the height of the Cold War, namely confidence and stability building measures. It would be in the neutral advantage of both Iran and the West if there were an exchange in military observers that took place for exercises and if there were an incidence at sea agreement about military operations in the Persian Gulf and so on.
Now, I do think there is some prospect for success if we can up the stakes because the fact is that some of the Rael Politic [phonetic] crowd in Iran is rather nervous. And this includes - how do I know this? How do I know that there's nervousness about Ahmadinejad's approach in Iran? Well, I would appeal to that great expert on Iranian affairs, Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock Holmes once solved a murder mystery by talking about the strange behavior of the dog in the night, and the strange behavior of the dog in the night, what was that? The dog did nothing, and it was the dog that did not bark when, in fact, the circumstances of the night was such that the dog should have been howling. And yet, the dog did not bark. It's the dog that's not barking which shows just how nervous the Iranian leaders are about Ahmadinejad's actions.
And, in particular, here we are in the middle of the celebration of the revolution in which usually we see fire-breathing speeches made by revolutionary guard commanders. And what we have had over the last three months is a deafening silence out of revolutionary guard commanders about the threats to the West and over Iran's nuclear program. The revolutionary guard generals, who are not usually thought of as being among the moderate crowd in Iran, are keeping their mouths shut. They're talking about the accusations against the revolutionary guards for incompetence because of military aircraft accidents, but they're saying zip about the nuclear program and the confrontation of the West.
For that matter, the supreme leader is also keeping his mouth shut. He's keeping a distance. That speaks volumes, and there are lots of rumors going on in Iran. There's been some very interesting reshuffling that's taken place in the revolutionary guard leadership, lots of rumors about splits within the supreme leader's office. People are nervous about this confrontational approach that Ahmadinejad's taking. It's a big gamble.
Meanwhile, Rafsanjani, the head of the Expediency Council and former President, has been on a very interesting tour around the country meeting with top religious leaders, which gives every indication that they're concurring about what to do about Ahmadinejad. So I have some hopes. It is possible that Iran's leaders could decide to refreeze the program. I do not believe that they will abandon their nuclear program, so long as there's an Islamic Republic. I think only a fall of the Islamic Republic would lead to an end of the program, but I do think that most of the program is likely to be frozen.
As for Iranian public attitudes, there's a lot of nonsense written about how there's broad Iranian support for the nuclear program. Look, that support is kilometer-wide dissention [indiscernible]. It's support which comes only because it doesn't seem to cost anything to have a nuclear program. In fact, there is not a great deal of support for this program.
If you take the amount of money that Iran has spent on this program, it would be enough to buy a kabob dinner for every Iranian at a restaurant once a week for the next year. If you were to ask the ordinary Iranian, would you prefer to have a kabob dinner or a nuclear program, I don't think there's going to be a lot of competition here, and the nukes would not win.
And certainly, if there's an impression that this nuclear program is costing Iran jobs and access to the outside world, there's not going to be a lot of support for this nuclear program. That means that Iran is ripe for an outreach program. If we can persuade ordinary Iranians that this nuclear weapons program, in particular, it belongs to the Mullahs, and that this is the Mullahs bomb, and that this is a way which they are using in order to extend their stay in power, support for the nuclear program is going to dissipate quickly. Ahmadinejad is trying to portray this nuclear program as Iran's. We have to portray it as the Mullahs. There's a good prospect of success for us if we can do that.
Danielle Pletka: Thank you, Patrick. George?
George Perkovich: Thanks, Dany. Thank you, Patrick, too. I thought both Assistant Secretary Rademaker and Patrick did so nicely that I perhaps could go, but I'll stay because I'm delighted to be here. Let me just try to elaborate or pick up in a way where both were pointing. I think that this is where we are now - and this week has been a much better week from the standpoint, I would argue, of the Iranian security, but certainly of global security and of a lot of interest of the international community.
This week is pointing in a positive direction. And by that I mean that you have the move to report, in the Iranian nuclear case, to the UN Security Council, which on one level can be dismissed as diplo-speak or kind of being ensnared in process, but which actually is much more momentous and carries much more material significance than it would seem, and we're going to talk about that a little bit more later.
What I wanted to do is to suggest that this issue is still going to be with us as a front burner issue for years to come, and that it's important, as we do that, that we clarify a few kind of phrases and thoughts that are bandied about frequently, whether it's on the Hill, in the press and so forth. What I mean by that, for example, is we talk about Iran's nuclear program or people say Iran can't be allowed to have nuclear capability. And it's very important to unpack that and make distinctions because, if we're every going to get an agreement with Iran, as Patrick pointed to, they are going to have a nuclear program, and they are going to have nuclear capability.
And the issue isn't about whether Iran should have or could have a nuclear program or nuclear capability. The issue is whether the nuclear program and capability that Iran has includes the capacity to build nuclear weapons or not. It's a very important distinction, and we're very sloppy in the way that we talk about it.
So what all of this diplomacy is about and all of the effort of the US and others is about insuring that Iran's nuclear program does not include the capacity to build nuclear weapons. Where that all then focuses is on uranium enrichment capability, which has its adjunct, so uranium convergence at Isfahan [phonetic], for example, or the production of plutonium, which then relates to the building of a heavy water plant, of a research reactor, and eventually perhaps reprocessing capability. And so, what's being focused upon is the effort to prevent Iran from building enrichment capability and operating in Iran or building the production to separate, ultimately, plutonium in Iran.
Similarly, Iran has rights to nuclear technology, as it claims, and its leaders have very astutely made this into an issue about rights and about the US, and you can read this namely as reaching out both to the Iranian people, but also to the broader international community and saying, this is a colonial project to stop the developing world, represented by Iran, from, in fact, developing. And it's the white guys from Europe plus the Zionists who are trying to keep the rest of us down on the farm and in an enslaved backward condition. And that's kind of the narrative. That's the story in which this has been put, and it needs to be countered.
And the counter, it seems to me, is that, yes, there is a general right to benefit from atomic energy for, for example, turning on lights or improving agricultural seeds or medical isotopes, and no one is talking about denying Iran the rights to benefit from the gains of nuclear technology. But nowhere is it ever, in any treaty or elsewhere, inscribed that the right to benefit from nuclear energy includes the right to possess this widget or that widget or an enrichment plant or something else.
The specific technologies entailed are always the product of negotiations over rules and conditions. And in particular in Iran, as in - I should know this number - 185, let's say, other countries that have signed a nuclear nonproliferation treaty as non-nuclear weapons states, the rights to the nuclear technology are entirely conditioned upon the demonstrable limitation of that country's work to only peaceful purposes. In other words, whatever rights you have are foregone if it can be demonstrated that any of your activities are not exclusively for peaceful purposes.
This leads me then to the report yesterday - that was reported yesterday - that is supposed to be coming out of the IAEA in the next day or so which suggests that there is further documentation - and Patrick mentioned and Ambassador Rademaker mentioned this talk about working on metal spheres. And there may be allusions actually to more documentation of work that was being done in Iran by organizations that are affiliated with the Iranian military and which work has no known civilian application.
Now, that's immensely important. If you read very, very carefully - Patrick was talking about Sherlock Holmes - if Sherlock Holmes went back and read very carefully all of the IAEA reports - now it's probably several hundred pages of them - the key questions that the reports point to and say they can't answer all pertain to the possibility that military organizations in Iran were involved in activity.
And the best example is this whole question of the P-2 centrifuge - P-2 may become a famous term. This is a generation of centrifuges that Iran imported from Pakistan, and Iran claimed that, after denying that this had happened when they were forced by data to admit that it had happened, they said, yes, we received the designs in 1995, but we did nothing with them until 2002. Didn't look at them, didn't touch them, nobody went out and tried to play around based on them. The IAEA found this incredible and said so in its reports.
One of the biggest problems is there is no explanation for what happened during these seven years. Iran didn't then try to explain and put the burden of proof on the IAEA, so Iran, in essence, said we didn't do anything with it. And the IAEA said, well, this isn't really plausible. And Iran said, well, we have nothing more to say.
In other words, prove that we did something with it or just remain silent. And it's very difficult to prove that kind of thing, but the indications from yesterday's reporting suggest that the agency has been getting more information to demonstrate that there were military organizations and activities involved in a supposedly peaceful nuclear program. And that points towards the idea that these were the groups that would have been working on P-2s.
Now, why Iran can't admit this - and there's a structural problem here that we're going to have to wrestle with in the years to come - if Iran were to answer the IAEA, which would enable theoretically the IAEA to close the file and heal the issue, the answer probably is that we were doing military work, and it was military organizations that were doing all these things that we can't otherwise explain. But if they tell the IAEA that, then that's admitting that it's not a peaceful nuclear program, it's a military program, and they're very worried what would happen as a result of that. And so, the structure problem is they won't ever satisfy the IAEA's outstanding demands because to do that would be self-incriminating, and there's no Fifth Amendment in the NPT or likely in the international system, with one exception. That is, Libya essentially did this.
Libya had a clandestine nuclear program that we suspected, but actually it turned out really had little idea the full extent of. Through quiet negotiations and otherwise, Libya then revealed that program and invited the IAEA and the US and UK to come in and inspect it, and we found all sorts of stuff we didn't know was there. So it was this huge admission of a tremendous violation of Libya's commitments, but they came clean.
And within two weeks the matter was sent to the UN Security Council, the UN Security Council issued a resolution saying, thank you, Libya, for coming clean. We have no further business to do here. The US and the UK said, okay, now we're going to invest in Libya. We're going to make nice. So there is an example of a country that dealt with the Fifth Amendment by, in essence, making a plea bargain.
I think there's no likelihood that Iran would follow suit for all sorts of reasons we can talk about in terms of Iranian history, politics and so forth. But there is this structural problem that we do have to wrestle with, which is, as long as we keep insisting answer these questions, there are these conundrums that must be resolved, but the answer to them would be an admission of guilt, we're going to be in this kind of ongoing conflict.
Let me close - and finally - but I do think that kind of the - I hate - I'm not going to use the metaphor - that time is actually working in the interest of those trying to prove what Iran has been up to, and, therefore, to bring about the enforcement that is called for under the existing rules, and that in many ways is what's at stake here, is whether the international community, in particular the big powers, in particular China and Russia, are willing to enforce the rules of the international nonproliferation regime.
And if they're not, there's going to be a lot more proliferation. If they are, there's a chance that you can stem that tide. And then, at the same time enforcing existing rules, which is the challenge now with Iran, there's a recognition brought forward by the Iranian case that the rules themselves need to be updated to deal with changes in technology over the last 50 years.
I'm not going to go into what the form of that updating is. My colleague, Pierre Goldschmidt, who was the - until July - the head of the Inspectorate of the IAEA, has suggested some of these changes in a recent piece that's on our website, carnegieendowment.org, and I urge you to look there. Pierre is very prescient about what's been happening here.
As I turn it back to Danielle, I would say that in all of this going forward we will succeed if you maintain an international coalition, which has been mustered in the last week or so. But if that breaks down, I think the capacity to succeed here is greatly diminished because this is a problem that the US alone is not going to be able to solve in my view. Thank you.
Danielle Pletka: We have essentially two contradictory presentations in many ways, Patrick saying we're going to pay a price if we continue to go slow, and George is saying if we don't go slow we won't achieve anything. I'm going to agree with everybody. Let me figure out where my first page of my notes is. There are, indeed, correct elements in what everybody says. What we see - I'm going to talk a little bit about the diplomacy and perhaps where they're headed and give you a little bit of a foretaste of what Senator Brownback is going to talk about. If you look at the Administration this week, you see a lot of happiness and smugness about US policy toward Iran and toward dealing with the nuclear problem in Iran, and I think that the Administration would like to view today's Board of Governors meeting at the IAEA as a victory for their diplomacy.
Without criticizing any particular individual, let me say that I would take that with a few grains of salt. I doubt very strongly that we would be where we are today at the IAEA in the Board of Governors with a consensus among the permanent five of the UN Security Council if it weren't for President Ahmadinejad. And secretly, everyone will refer to him as the greatest thing to happen to our Iran policy, and I think they're absolutely right, but that's not really a good policy. Policy driven by other people's bad behavior is not generally one that you should embrace because what happens if they start to be nice? It is something to worry about.
It sounds like a fluff statement, but, in fact, if you look back and you recall the atmospheric surrounding the Iranian elections last year, what you remember is that everybody suspected that Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani was going to win the election. Prognosticators may have been wrong. God knows they were wrong Truman and Dewey, and we were wrong about that, as well.
But the truth is that, had Rafsanjani won, it is likely that the Iranian nuclear program would have continued apace. They would have been able to secretly continue developing nuclear weapons, and we wouldn't be in the Board of Governors today because they are far smoother diplomatically. They wouldn't have had these holocaust revisionism conferences. They wouldn't have demanded the eradication of Israel from the face of the Earth quite as often or quite as loudly, and they would have taken a more go along to get along attitude. So Ahmadinejad helped us along a great deal.
But we should be wary, not just that he will wake up and see the light because, as Patrick suggests, while there are many in Iran who are very worried about the loudmouth Mr. Ahmadinejad, the truth is that he is the elected President, and we're unlikely to see any great changes anytime soon. But now we're going to the Security Council. This is where we have wanted to go.
Then what? The Security Council has its own problems. In the Board of Governors it is true, and in the International Atomic Energy Agency, one of the nice things is you can have a majority vote to get a referral or a report to the Security Council, and so you don't have to have consensus if you don't. It's not absolutely necessary.
Well, at the Security Council, we have other problems. We have five permanent members, two of which are not terribly enthusiastic about taking this too much further down the road of sanctions or stern action. They, too, remember what happened with Iraq. They are not foolish, and they do not want to pave the way to a confrontation or, indeed, to sanctions or anything else.
People tend to forget the case of North Korea was referred to the United Nations Security Council in 2003. I'd be really entertained if somebody could tell me what's happened. I can tell you. Nothing. Nothing at all. So let's be wary that this isn't a dead end. A referral or a report to the Security Council is not a diplomatic victory unless it is accompanied by serious next steps. What should we do? What are those next steps?
Clearly, the Security Council needs to make a set of demands for compliance. Not a set of new demands, a set of similar demands that have been made from the International Atomic Energy Agency, from the EU three, from the United States, from even the Russians, that the Iranians need to turn the clock back, they need to reseal, they need to return to the terms of the Paris agreement. And, in addition, there maybe be some steps towards an enhanced inspection regime. Maybe that's not even going to be an initial request. Maybe that'll be a secondary request.
These demands, however, need to be made with a deadline because otherwise we can sit there asking until we're blue in the face. And even if we ask under Chapter 7, if there are no consequences, then the Security Council will be no more effective than the Board of Governors of the IAEA or Mohamed El Baradei or anybody else. And we've already seen from Secretary General Annan that there isn't too much enthusiasm about going down a tough road with Iran.
So what do we do next? What should the next steps be in the Security Council if, in fact, Iran doesn't comply with a politely-worded request to stop doing that? The next step should definitely include nuclear sanctions. One of the strangest things that we've seen is that, despite the fact that in the previous resolution of the Board of Governors of the IAEA there was a determination of noncompliance with IAEA safeguards agreements, notwithstanding the Russians still believed that they could go forward with all of their nuclear agreements with the Iranians and that, in fact, could begin to negotiate more and talk about the future of the program.
What? If you're not in compliance with your safeguards agreements, if you're not a member in good standing of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, why the heck should you be getting the privileges of a member in good standing? This is inexplicable to me. And, in fact, it sends a message to all members of the NPT, let alone non-members, that, in fact, it's not really a serious treaty anymore. I think George alluded to some of these problems.
This is a broader issue. It is a broader problem, but we couldn't really send a signal more clearly than by saying, by the way, you're really bad, you've done a lot of really bad things, we've even signed on to this resolution, where's my check for the next nuclear reactor, which we know you're using to cheat on your nuclear program in order to have nuclear weapons. But that's okay. This is not serious, so that has to be a part of what the Security Council demands. It has to be, in fact, a sanction that is contemplated not later on, but extremely early.
Then we need to look at other things. Iranian officials involved in the nuclear program, involved in the military program, need to have their movements restricted. They shouldn't be going around visiting. They shouldn't be allowed to have the kind of liberty of action that people who are decent citizens of the world have. They shouldn't be allowed to travel to Europe. They shouldn't be able to travel and visit procurement networks. They shouldn't be able to maintain their contacts.
We should be clamping down on these people. We should also clamp down on all equipment. This is part of the nuclear sanctions. We should clamp down on all equipment that could be related to the nuclear program, but we should also contemplate other possibilities. After Pan-Am 103, the sanctions on Libya included sanctions on oil equipment that stopped them from repairing their fields, that stopped them from doing further explorations. That wasn't a bad idea. In the end, it was effective.
In the end, it brought Libya around. Those are worthwhile things to look at. They will get the attention of the Iranian government and perhaps the smarter people within the Iranian government sooner than of any statement from the IAEA or the Security Council. And we should consider a whole variety of other sanctions.
There are reasonable questions, however, as to whether we can actually achieve any of those things. I could probably go through an entire menu of appetizers, main courses, soups, desserts and everything else as sanctions. Goodness knows, the United States Congress, when I worked there, spent a lot of time doing just that, and there are a variety of, I think, effective measures that can be taken.
But let's speak realistically. We have the experience of North Korea. We know how hard it was for us to get to where we are today, tomorrow or the next day. Are we going to get those sanctions? I think it's a very reasonable question to ask, and I think the odds are very slim that we will, in fact, have any serious coercive measures from the United Nations. That is why you hear from people who are so concerned about this that it is imperative that we pursue two tracks. It's not something you're going to hear from the Administration, but, in fact, what we need to recognize is that the end to the nuclear program, as George said, the end to the nuclear program is the end to the regime. That's the only moment when we can be absolutely certain that this regime is not, in fact, pursuing nuclear weapons. We need to face facts.
Iran is - I'd like to hear from my colleagues about what they think the odds are that Iran will end up with nuclear weapons notwithstanding. I think they're pretty high. I think it's going to be very hard for us to knock them off this road because none of what we've talked about here today, none of the steps, actually slow them down on the research that they've done thus far, slow them down on the progress they're making. It may cause some bumps in the road, but, in fact, the basic building blocks of a nuclear weapon are in the Iranians' hands. The technology and probably the plan are in the Iranians' hands.
If A.Q. Khan gave a bomb plan to the Libyans, would he not have given one to the Iranians? We profess not to know. I think it's a fairly reasonable supposition that he did. You can bomb a site. You can take away an individual. It's very hard to take away knowledge from a regime. So, in fact, I would say that they are headed down that road.
We need to remember a couple of things as we think about a two-track policy. One is that we have made a big mistake previously with Libya in saying that, once you abandon a nuclear weapons program, your WMD, your long-range missiles, guess what, it's really okay to be a dictator, to oppress your own people, to kill reporters, to imprison those you don't like and to wholesale - grind the people of your country into the ground with your thumb. That is what the Iranian regime does.
We ought to remember it, and we ought to remember that we have more of an obligation, yes, to our national security, but also to the freedom agenda that the President talks about, I don't know, fairly often, I think. And I think it was a pretty big statement in his State of the Union. It came above the stuff about Iran. So let's remember that Iran is, in fact, a tyrannical, repressive state, and we ought to be doing something about that.
Let's remember that the State Department has every year for the last few years labeled Iran as a premiere sponsor of terror in the world today. Hezbollah, Hamas, but also al-Qaeda. They have a relationship with them. This is not something that will go away, even if we get them to reseal at Natanz and elsewhere. This is something we need to face up to and we need to deal with, and I will posit to you that this Administration is not dealing with that.
Yes, they have a small program to support the Iranian opposition. They are using ineffectually. Yes, they talk about having a relationship with the people or Iran, but they don't have a relationship with the people of Iran. It would be nice if they did. I think people's hearts are in the right place, which is a really big challenge, but the truth is that there hasn't been enough outside pressure to force the Administration to actually be serious about this democracy policy in Iran.
We need to do a lot more, and I can talk about this afterwards. You all have heard this before a dozen times. We need to do a lot more to support the indigenous opposition inside Iran. We need to stand up for these people, and we need to use the diplomatic know-how that Secretary Rice is so capable and has shown so well in bringing together the permanent five on this question with Ahmadinejad's help and persuade them that, in fact, Iranian people are also a priority. These countries have diplomatic mission in Iran. They have leverage. They are investors in Iran, heavy, heavy investors in Iran. And they should use that leverage to show the Iranian government that status quo is not going to work.
We need to stigmatize the Iranian leadership until they change. We need to do the kinds of things that we have finally been willing to do on North Korea. Freeze bank accounts. We need to absolutely push for an end to these enormous investments that are continuing even through this week, and we need to stop the World Bank from giving money to Iran. They gave more than a billion dollars to Iran in the last three years, more than half of it in the last year alone, as one of my colleagues wrote so ably in the last week.
These are things that we should think about. They are tools for us. We are funding these people. We are subsidizing them, and it's wrong. So I'm going to leave it at that. We have a few minutes for questions before Senator Brownback arrives, and I'm going to leave my admonition out, but you know what it is.
Audience Member: Thank you. My name is Mack Neazo [phonetic]. I have a question for Pat Clawson about the confidence building that you referred to. Since the Iranian revolution in 1979, presidents, secretaries of states, all of them have always called Iran a rogue state. And under this Administration, President Bush in his axis of evil statement, he listed three countries. Last year, Condi Rice in her Senate confirmation hearing, listed six countries as outposts of tyranny.
And this year, the President listed five countries. Among those three countries, axis of evil, six countries outposts of tyranny and five countries this week, two countries have been constant, North Korea and Iran. So it is tantamount to declaring that North Korea and Iran are eternal enemies of the United States. My question is, against this backdrop, how is it possible for this Administration to talk about confidence building? How can it be possible to convince Iranians?
Patrick Clawson: Well, as I recall, there was a President of the United States who referred to the Soviet Union as an evil empire. And as I recall, that same President met regularly with the leaders of that evil empire and signed treaties with the leaders of that evil empire. So I think speaking truth about the situation is hardly incompatible with having successful diplomacy. In fact, I think it's a good start to successful diplomacy is to make quite clear what it is you think of the other party. So indeed, if we think that Iran is an outpost of tyranny, we should say so and, at the same time, be prepared to enter into agreements of mutual interests.
So, for instance, this Administration has authorized the US Ambassador in Iraq to have discussions with his Iranian counterpart about issues of common concern. Good idea, good idea. And that, I find, is something that is completely possible to walk and breathe at the same time, and I, indeed, would recommend it as being more successful than trying to do either one without the other.
And so, yes, I do think we should tell the truth about the Iranian regime, that it is an outpost of tyranny. And yes, I do think that we should try and find areas where it can be a mutual interest for us to work together. And that's what confidence and stability building measures are like.
I think it's in our interest to have military observers at Iranian exercises because it's a pretty closed country, and we'd like to know what goes on at their military exercises. And I would welcome to have them at our exercises since they probably already are there anyway.
Audience Member: The question is for Pat. I'm Matt Sydin [phonetic] with the Navy. I'd like to ask you about, if you look at the whole program, the nuclear program of Iran, is there a critical element that, if the world shuts down or destroys - it has the effect of shutting down [indiscernible; recording cuts out].
Patrick Clawson: I think it's more a question for George. I would just comment that, as George pointed out, the technology is, indeed, a key element. If we are able, however, to force Iran to do things clandestinely, if we are able to force Iran to rebuild some of the facilities that it once had, that will slow down Iran's program. And in this game, delay may be victory. If we simultaneously pursue the kind of encouragement of alternatives to the Islamic Republic that Dany was talking about, it's possible that we will be able to speed up the democratic change clock and slow down the nuclear clock so the democratic change takes place before Iran's nuclear weapons program comes to fruition.
George Perkovich: I agree with the sequencing issue that Patrick just raised. The short answer to your question is we don't know. In other words, if the Isfahan uranium conversion plant is the only one they have, that is a very great vulnerability because it would be a bottleneck through which their capability needs to come.
Now, the question you then have to ask is, they've built Natanz underground with concrete, they've known what happened to Iraq in 1981, they saw the first Gulf War, et cetera, et cetera. So would they really only have one of these plants if it's truly a bottleneck to their capability and it's sitting out where it's the easiest thing in the world to destroy. It'll take a few seconds. And so, then you don't know if there's another one. Now, if there's another one and we don't know about it, by definition we can't destroy it. So you tell me. Is that the only one? I don't know.
Audience Member: My name is Marco Diviesti [phonetic]. A question for anyone on the panel. How do you interpret the means and the goals of the Russians and Chinese?
Patrick Clawson: Look, I think that the principle concerns of both Russia and China are strategic and not economic. They are not being moved primarily by relatively small amounts of trade. These are both countries which are feeling quite rich at the moment, and the trade involved is relatively small. So it's much more strategic matters that are of concern.
In China's case, Iran is viewed through the lens of North Korea, and just as the Chinese are unenthusiastic about seeing the Security Council being the locus of decision making about the North Korean program, so, too, they're unenthusiastic about seeing the Security Council as the locus of decision making about the Iran program. But just as they are enthusiastic about multilateral diplomacy and the negotiations on the North Korea program, so, too, they are on the Iran program. And to the extent that we can persuade the Chinese that, just as North Korea, that Iran must ultimately agree to give up its most dangerous capabilities, then I think we have a good chance of persuading the Chinese that we're not the problem on Iran, that the Iranians are.
On the Russian case, the Israelis have done quite a good job in saying to the Russians, look, for years you ignored the Chinese nuclear program because you didn't think the Chinese back in the 60s were going to get anyplace, and besides which, if they got nuclear weapons, they wouldn't be aimed at you. That was a really stupid thing to do because the Chinese turned out to make much more progress than you thought and, within four years of their first nuclear test, they were threatening Moscow with nuclear weapons. So the Israelis have said that, if Iran gets nuclear weapons, can you be confident that Iran will not suddenly become assertive and active in areas like Chechnya and the South Caucuses and Central Asia. And at least my discussions in Moscow suggest that there's a broad consensus among the Russian elite that a nuclear-armed Iran is harmful to Russia's interests, but that they think that the most successful way to prevent this is through diplomacy. Good luck. I wish them the best of luck. I think they're wrong on that matter. I think diplomacy is going to have to be backed up with a threat of force, but I do think that they really believe that.
Audience Member: A question for each of you. George, when you talked about the self-incriminating - Iran not wanting to be self-incriminating in terms of revealing military work on its program, I'm struck that part of the reason I would think that's fairly obvious, which is that the Iranians have probably concluded that, even if they came out and confessed about their program, the hostility from the United States would not end and that all this would do is put them in a more vulnerable position, unlike Libya, which Dany has criticized. Patrick, on your point about confidence building measures, beyond some sort of short-term kind of alerts and notifications, do you see the notion of broader security guarantees as a possibility and what form might these take?
George Perkovich: I think you're right. There's clearly a view that, yes, if they came clean, then the US still has this other set of reasons why it still wouldn't deal with this government, but they would even be in a worse off position because their capacity could persuade everybody that it's okay for them to enrich uranium would disappear. They would lose what they're trying to get, which is everything. They want to be able to stay within the rules, get cooperation, and develop technology that gives them the options to make nuclear weapons without being regarded as outcasts.
So they would lose all of those things if they came clean. I think that's right. But that's also why this is going to remain an issue that is kind of largely unresolvable in any kind of neat way, in my opinion, unless you get a change of government in Iran and we all make nice, which I'm perhaps not as optimistic as my colleagues about when and how that would happen.
Patrick Clawson: By the way, I do think it is possible that we might be able to lead the current Islamic Republic to the same calculus that we led Qadhafi, namely that nuclear weapons were not good for security, because I don't think that nuclear weapons are good for Iran's security. I don't think that Iran faces any country which plans to invade it. It faces a problem with its neighbors of failing states, and nuclear weapons are not useful for dealing with the failing states. And if Iran pursues nuclear weapons, it risks starting a nuclear arms race among its neighbors who are richer than it and better placed to acquire nuclear technology than it, and they will win that arms race.
I'm talking about countries like Turkey, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. And so, Iran's security will be made worse if it acquires nuclear weapons, and at some point far-sighted Iranian revolutionary leaders may decide this is a really dumb idea and abandon it. But the current crowd shows no indications of realizing where the country's security interests lie on this and a whole variety of other issues. They continue to pursue isolation, rather than alliances with others.
On the question of longer term security guarantees, I'm interested in confidence and stability building measures primarily because I think it's going to impress European and Russian opinion that we're being reasonable in addressing Iran's legitimate security concerns. I happen to think that because of this peculiarly isolationist and xenophobic security attitude that the Iranian leaders take, the Islamic Republic, that they're not going to be interested in these kinds of measures. But I want to persuade world opinion that we are prepared to do a heck of a lot to address Iran's security concerns, and then we can hopefully use that also to reach out to Iranian people to say that we're going to prepare to address your security concerns.
But I'm not going to spend my time trying to think up security guarantees that the revolutionary leaders can accept because I think that's hopeless. They don't need those kind of security guarantees in order to improve their security. That said, I would offer some things. For instance, I think it would be quite in our interest to propose that it's like the conventional forces in Europe agreement that there'd be an agreement that would limit heavy armaments near the Iranian-Afghan and the Iranian-Iraqi borders. We don't need heavy armaments for our counter-insurgency missions in those areas, and this would be a way of showing to the outside world that we are prepared to address what could be an Iranian security concern about either their Iraqi border or their Afghan border. For that matter, even the Turkish I'd be prepared to do this.
Do I think these things are going to impress the leaders in Iran? No. But I do think that they may impress opinion in the rest of the world that we are prepared to walk that extra mile to address Iran's security measures through practical measures and not through just words on paper, like security guarantees, the way they've been dismissed by Iranians as just words on paper. So I would offer to do specific and concrete military things.
Danielle Pletka: Miles, I do think with the implication of your question that somehow it's a lose-lose for the Iranians because, after all, if they decide to abide by the rules that they've signed up to in the NPT, well, we're still going to hate them because they're bad on terrorism, and they're tyrants. First of all, yes, that's true, but there is, in fact, an incentive for them to behave better on all three fronts, and that is that they could end up sitting in similar seats to Saddam Hussein. And I think that should be something that they think reasonably about.
Losing power is not, I would hope, a positive prospect for them, and they have been provided with multiple opportunities to behave better. But to suggest that somehow we ought to demand that they end their nuclear program, but then terrorism is okay and putting everybody in prison is also okay is not really a good strategy for the United States, as far as I'm concerned in any case.
We have time for one more very quick question, and we'll give it to Guy because he's right in my line of sight. Right here in the center of the aisle. And Senator Brownback is here, so then we'll turn to him.
Audience Member: Guy Dinmore, Financial Times. George, can you clarify a couple of things? Obviously, these new documents about a possible weaponization program are very important. What authority does the IAEA have at the moment to sort of go around non-sort of nuclear sites looking for these things? Is it something that Mr. Rademaker was possibly referring to in terms of enhancing the authority of the IAEA? And then, are we going to end up back where we were with Saddam some years ago with a sort of debate about whether you could get access to his palace bedrooms to check what they were doing? Is that - what degree of inspections are needed?
George Perkovich: That's a great question, Guy. Yes, there's an inherent limitation in the way that the IAEA's authority has been interpreted both by the Board of Governors and the member states and the inspectors that limits what they can pursue to some connection to nuclear material.
All right? And as you make the allusion, weaponization, to build a nuclear bomb, you need the fissile material, the plutonium and the high enriched uranium, but you need lots of other things, too. Conventional explosions, electrical circuitry, things that aren't nuclear. And traditionally, the agency hasn't been allowed to go look for those kinds of things, to interview people about them and so on. They're creeping up to the edge of that, and so the authority that I think Ambassador Rademaker referred to and certainly that Pierre Goldschmidt and others have called for, would be for the Security Council - and this is again why the Security Council is important - for the Security Council to give the agency authority to pursue questions about weaponization.
In other words, to expand the mandate that the agency has, the places it can go, facilities it can go to, to demand that people desired for interviews be provided immediately and under conditions not dictated by the Iranians. There are a list of things that the inspectors need to have, but the weaponizations part is key that you raised.
And then, you get to the thing about palaces and so on. I see all of this as rather an incremental stage process that's going to take a long time and where there'll be many crises along the way and a lot of brinksmanship. And so, at some point, of course, if the agency gets a better mandate, at some point the Iranians are going to say, ah, but you can't go there, and then there'll be a threat for six months about should we go back to New York to say that you actually can go there. And then there'll be reports that they dusted off the place. This is going to play on for a long time, I think, and we shouldn't be surprised by it. And I don't think it's necessarily a disaster that it happens. All of this can be played out. They're making a slow retreat or slow advance, and the difference between the two is what it's all about.
Danielle Pletka: With that, we're going to take a quick break, and we will, I think, start on time, at 11:00 with Senator Brownback. Let me thank Patrick and George for really excellent, provocative presentations, and thank you all. Please don't go too far. Thanks.
[break in session]
Danielle Pletka: May I ask everybody to be seated so we can start? Thank you, everybody, if you could just be seated and quiet down. Make sure your cell phones are off, please. For the final portion of our conference this morning, I'm very proud and pleased to be introducing someone who I've known a long time and who I consider a pretty good friend, Senator Sam Brownback, the senator from Kansas.
Senator Brownback was - do you want to me to allude to you being the youngest Secretary of Agriculture in the State of Kansas? This is the first thing in your bio. But you're still very young, Senator Brownback. In 1994, Senator Brownback was elected to the US Congress representing the 2nd District of Kansas, and in 1996 he was chosen to fill the remainder of Bob Dole's term in the United States Senate where he has been serving ever since. He serves on the Appropriations Committee, the Judiciary Committee, the Joint Economic Committee and the Helsinki Commission for which he is Chairman. And I hope he is going to talk a little bit about Helsinki and what we can do about Iran today.
Senator Brownback has been a tribune for the people of Iran. He has been a spokesman for freedom fighters everywhere, for religious freedom. He is an activist, a true believer, a man with the courage of his convictions, in other words somebody who we are very proud to know, somebody who we are very proud to see in the United States Senate and somebody who AEI is very happy to welcome once again. Without further ado, Senator Brownback.
Sam Brownback: Thanks so much. Thank you, Dany. Thank you very much, and it's a - I've never seen Dany slow down. And now she puts a nail through her foot, and so I guess I gather she's a little slower than normal. But I've worked with her for many years, and a delightful lady. It's a pleasure to see you all here this morning. I just came from the National Prayer Breakfast where they had a great gathering of people and a lot of goodwill people meeting together from around the world. Coach Tom Osborne, the Nebraska congressman that's running for Governor, that's actually a step down for him because he was a football coach at the University of Nebraska, which is a much higher position in Nebraska than Governor. He got off a pretty good line, I thought, this morning when he was talking about what he saw.
He said he looked out in the room and saw a lot of politicians here, and it reminded him of the story about a guy asked three politicians what they wanted people to say when they walked by them when they were in their coffins. And the one politician said, well, I'd like for people to say there's an honest man. And the second guy said, well, I'd like for the people to say there's a good family man. And the third politician said I'd like for them to say he's still moving.
Okay, it was better when he gave it this morning. Maybe it was an early morning joke and it was supposed to be left for that.
I want to thank the American Enterprise Institute for having me here today.
Today I hope to lay out both the problems and the solutions to addressing gaps in US policy and the role of the international community to address, what I consider to be, one of our most imminent threat today.
I titled my speech "Defiance of Arms vs. Defiance of Will". Defiance is an important word, suggesting either an act of bold resistance to further a just cause or an act of disobedience and rebellious disregard for rules and standards.
I would suggest that defiance is a word to sum up Iran. The regime's rebellious disregard for human rights and global security is a defiance that should not be tolerated. The Iranian people's bold resistance of the regime's dictatorial disregard for democracy and human rights is a moral defiance for truth and justice. As we witnessed in the Polish Solidarity movement, the defiance of the people eventually cracked the defiance of the government.
And that is why a two-track approach to the crisis in Iran is needed: an approach that challenges the regime externally, and an approach that challenges the regime internally. The US has a strong role to play in both and neither should be forfeited for the other. They are independently important, but vitally connected.
Earlier this week in his State of the Union address, the President of the United States spoke to the people of Iran. He said: "America respects you, and we respect your country. We respect your right to choose your own future and win your own freedom."
I'd like to add something to the President's stirring call. Yes, America respects the people of Iran, and we respect your right to choose your future. But we must do more to help you be able to exercise that right.
This year, the United States will spend $10 million supporting political reform for Iran. Last year, we spent $3 million. Lest you think I am boasting about this number, make no mistake: I am not.
Just for comparison sake, the United States spent $10 million on planetariums in the US last year.
Let's review the threat. Since coming to power in a bloody revolution 26 years ago, the Islamic Republic has steadily eroded the rights of the Iranian people. Women's rights are a thing of the past. Freedom of expression is almost unknown except on anonymous web sites. Student leaders opposed to the regime have been imprisoned under brutal conditions.
But it's not just vocal opponents of the regime who have suffered. There are plenty of disturbing indicators that Iran is moving backwards. Unemployment is close to 30 percent. University presidents have been replaced wholesale to install regime yes-men. Iran's once robust intellectual life is under constant assault. President Ahmadinejad has even banned western music.
Union members - not democracy activists - are being imprisoned for their activities. Just yesterday, five hundred unionists, drivers and other workers of the United Bus Company of Teheran, who were arrested during a bus strike on Saturday, 28th of January, and transferred to the notorious Evin Prison, reportedly began a collective hunger strike.
In a statement published yesterday, the Syndicate called for another bus strike today. Why are they protesting? They are demanding the immediate release of all 700 jailed unionists, drivers and other employees of the United Bus Company of Tehran, as well as their wives and their children.
Why are people striking? They're not being paid; they are being denied basic rights. Rights are for the leadership in Iran, not the people.
Anecdotally, we hear that corruption in Iran is staggering, with most mullahs and petty bureaucrat on the take. Money is in Europe; it is probably in the United States; for the Iranian leaders who have been on the take for years. This is money that has been stolen from the Iranian people. Twenty-six years ago, the Iranian people shed blood to rid themselves of a corrupt and autocratic leader. And what has replaced him? A regime that is far worse.
While Iranians are suffering at home, stifled without economic opportunity, the regime is frittering away hundreds of millions of dollars on supporting terrorist groups like Hezbollah and on anti-Semitic propaganda campaigns. Sounds like Germany in the 1930s.
While Iranians are suffering at home, the Iranian regime is funneling money to political parties and militias in Iraq, seeking to replicate its own brand of Islamic dictatorship next door. They're also using that money and the arms it buys to try to kill coalition soldiers.
While Iranians are suffering at home, the regime is spending hundreds of millions on arms, longer and longer range missiles and a nuclear program that does not serve the interests of the Iranian people. Iranians are not short of energy, and they're not short of oil. The statistics make that abundantly clear: According to the CIA, Iran produces approximately 3.9 million barrels of oil per day, consumes 1.4 million barrels per day, and exports 2.5 million barrels per day. If Iran was hard up for energy, surely it would consume more than one-third of what it produces.
And just in case you suspected they were worried about the future, consider that the growth rate of oil production in Iran is estimated at 10% annually, while the growth rate of consumption is only 4 percent. Beyond the basic analysis of Iran's energy rich resources, The Energy Information Agency has conducted research which has determined that it would not be cost effective for Iran to develop nuclear power.
Let's face it: The suspicions on the International Atomic Energy Agency, United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China are not wrong. Iran is using its peaceful nuclear program as a cover for its illegal weapons program. These tyrants are hiding behind their rights under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to develop nuclear weapons.
Some people have suggested that even a different regime in Iran would want nuclear energy or even nuclear weapons. We should address that problem. If a law abiding and peaceful Iran wants to live by the rules, then the United States should accept that. There is no bar on a peaceful nuclear energy program. I suspect that a peaceful Iran would not be interested in nuclear weapons; I hope they would not be.
But the mullahs and their henchmen in Iran are not interested in a peaceful nuclear program. They are interested in nuclear weapons. They want those weapons for several reasons: First and foremost, the regime wishes to intimidate all who might threaten their stranglehold on power. Second, they want to assume what they believe to be their rightful place, dominating the entire Middle East. Finally, there is reason to suspect that they could use nuclear weapons against the United States or our democratic allies in the Middle East, Israel in particular.
Ayatollah Khomeini called on "[e]very Muslimâ€¦to prepare himself for battle against Israel." His successor Ayatollah Khamenei described Israel as a "cancerous tumor" in the Middle East and called for its destruction. A few months ago, President Ahmadinejad speaking at a conference titled, "A World Without Zionism," appealed to his audience to "wipe Israel off the map." He followed these comments a few weeks later by expressing doubt about the Holocaust and defending his earlier condemnation of Israel.
Is there a reason we should not take these threats seriously? Is there a reason that any leader should threaten to eradicate another nation and be ignored?
It sounds absurd to suggest that any nation would invite its own destruction by using such weapons. But this is a special regime, and its irrational hatred of Israel and the Jewish people knows no bounds.
So now we come full circle back to the United States and the rest of the world. We have not sat idly by. The United States has worked with enormous determination to ensure that Iran is referred to the United Nations Security Council by the International Atomic Energy Agency. That will happen tomorrow, and we'll have to see whether concerted action by the permanent five members of the Security Council will bring Ahmadinejad to reason.
But this Iranian government even without nuclear weapons is still the world's foremost sponsor of terror and a vicious tyrant to its own people. We must do more. And we can -- which brings me back to our $10 million.
First and foremost, we must appropriate enough money to start the job. I am calling for the appropriation of $100 million this year to support democracy and human rights in Iran.
How can we use the money effectively? First, we must support independent human rights groups inside Iran which maintain internationally recognized human rights standards. I have urged my colleagues to provide financial and political assistance to entities that support human rights and democracy. Eligibility should be contingent on individuals and groups who officially oppose the use of terrorism, support adherence to nonproliferation regimes, and are dedicated to democratic values and human rights.
Last year the United States increased democracy and human rights funds by over $200 million. We increased funds to the National Endowment for Democracy by 35%. We added the new account, titled the Democracy Fund at $175 million. We earmarked $50 million for democracy and human rights in Egypt, which will for the first time, actually to be used to build democracy.
But the Congress has been able to secure only a small amount of funding over the last several years for democracy and human rights in Iran. We've moved from securing $1 million in the FY2004 Foreign Operations Bill, to $3 million in the FY2005 bill and close to $10 million in last year's Appropriations bill. Much more is needed for such an important task of peace
Some suggest that Iranians will be afraid to come to us for support. That may be true and they may pay in Evin prison if they are caught working with the United States. But that doesn't mean we should give up; it means we must work creatively to find funding mechanisms and in kind support for Iranians who want to do the right thing. It means we must stand up for those who are imprisoned and we can do that.
We need a regional human rights dialogue with Iran that is modeled on the Helsinki process by engaging countries in the region. The Helsinki process was one of the tools that brought human rights to the Soviet Empire. We must engage the world in bringing a better future to the Iranian people.
I call on the Secretary of State to appoint a special envoy for human rights in Iran within the Department who can coordinate and promote efforts to improve the respect for the fundamental human rights of the people of Iran by working with the UN, EU and regional entities, consult with NGOs, and coordinate with other appropriate offices.
Then, we must push aggressively in international organizations. We have worked well within the International Atomic Energy Agency. Now let's ensure that we do the same in the United Nations and at the World Bank. I am betting that few Americans realize that the Iranian regime is among the top ten borrowers of the World Bank. Over the last three years, Iran has received more than $1.1 billion from the Bank, more than half in the last year.
And the #1 bankroller of the World Bank?? Yes, it is the United States. The World Bank must stop lending to the Tehran regime until they renounce terrorism and stop pursuing nuclear weapons.
We should also make it a top priority to help the people of Iran achieve a free press, and assist programs that effectively communicate democratic ideals to the Iranian people as an essential means of fostering change.
Our own US broadcasting services should work on programming in consultation with Iranian-Americans, Iranians inside the country and other reformers that have recently fostered change through the Orange Revolution, the Rose Revolution, and the Cedar Revolution to ensure that programming is devoted to discussing democratic change. We should be working to create satellite broadcasting networks, websites, and distribute translated books, videos and other documents on democracy and human rights. And the US should take a leading role in imposing diplomatic or economic sanctions on foreign nations or entities that assist the government of Iran in jamming, blocking, or preventing free transmission of US government radio and TV broadcasts into Iran.
These steps aren't dramatic. It just requires the will to take the promises of the President of the United States and the pleas of the people of Iran and do something.
When the words "regime change" are uttered around Washington, there is a silence that fills most rooms. But we must not be constrained by words that actually promote liberty, equality and justice. Regime change can happen from within, and I am confident that the Iranian people can champion their future.
As we remember the life of Coretta Scott King this week, we are reminded of the peaceful civil rights movement that blossomed in the United States. Freedom is not an American birthright. There are people with King's courage the world over. They need our help. The time for pretty words is past. This is a matter of urgency, of morality and of national security. Thank you.
Danielle Pletka: Senator Brownback has agreed to take a few questions. If everybody will be patient, just remember to wait for the microphone. Do identify yourself. Do you want to take - or shall I take -?
Sam Brownback: Why don't you go ahead.
Danielle Pletka: All right. I've called on you three times. This gentleman right back here if you can get around. One second please, sir.
Audience Member: Sir, along the measure that you mentioned to help the Iranian peoples - I'm sorry, Jerry Abdim [phonetic] from [indiscernible] Human Rights Organization. You said Congress counts on the [indiscernible] voice of America to address Iranian peoples. Iran is a very diverse country, six, seven, eight ethnic groups, yet most of America, some people think that they hijack this instrument. They really are not addressing 25, 27 other [indiscernible] the Turks, the Kurds, the Arab, the [indiscernible]. I don't know if your staff could look into it, that some people think that really that's where the problem is. Iranian peoples need to be addressed, and what you mentioned in your remarks needs to be put forth that what they're doing to the Kurds and the Turks and the [indiscernible] unfortunately most of America is not addressing that. And there is a problem, and we wish that you would look into it. Thank you.
Sam Brownback: Well, and that's a good suggestion, and we need to do that, and I appreciate your thoughts, comment.
Audience Member: Carol Giacomo from Reuters. Senator, could you explain why the President did not go forward in his State of the Union speech and make the kind of specific proposal that you did today. What kind of support will you get from the President for your proposal? And are you anticipating that covert action, as well as overt programs, would be part of this?
Sam Brownback: I obviously don't speak for the President and wouldn't attempt to. I don't have a good enough draw to do that, and I can't answer why he didn't speak with more specificity about Iran. He did dedicate - the first part was the foreign policy component of his speech, and most of that was a domestic speech. It was the State of the Union message, which is generally given to that, but the biggest component of it on the international topic was given to Iran.
I really believe what's taking place now within the Administration is they're searching for the right avenues to pursue on Iran, that this has been an Administration that's very focused, and it focuses singularly. In the war on terrorism, it focused sequentially, focused it on Afghanistan, then when that got to a stage of some stability, moved to Iraq. I believe you'll see us pull troop levels down substantially this year in Iraq and handing much more of that over to the Iraqi people, and I think you'll see Iran come into the view screen at this point in time. And I think they're searching for what sorts of legitimate options are there in addressing the Iranian regime in a place you can get a message in to.
My experience has been a fairly porous society, that you can get a message into it, and also a society where the people don't support the government. And it's one that you need to do a lot of democracy building underneath the regime, and much of that is probably going to have to have communications from outside of the country to be able to help and assist with that. But my view is that they're searching for the active components of how you confront a regime whose stated ideology is clearly opposed to us and other democratic countries.
Audience Member: And what about an overt component?
Sam Brownback: I don't know what they would contemplate in that category, and, if I did, I wouldn't talk about it. I don't contemplate a covert component. What I'm talking about here is democracy building, civil society building, and civil disobedience building, along the line of what I spoke about of Coretta Scott King and the King movement where the people take the power.
They're taking the power to the streets. And it is a dangerous way. It was difficult here, and we had people die here during that movement and period of time. And you see people in Iran that have put their lives on the line and have lost their lives on democracy movement, but we shouldn't back away from supporting them. We should embrace and encourage them.
Audience Member: Dwight Vanshear [phonetic] with the US Commission on International and Religious Freedom. Senator Brownback, thank you very much for your comments on focusing democracy and human rights as an important element to fund. My question to you would be, among these programs, if you increase the numbers to $100 million, which we would welcome, I think some of our recommendations that we make to the Administration and Congress we're really looking to how do you fund groups in Iran when you already have such a clamp on freedom of expression and religious minorities are targeted? Groups are being monitored on a regular basis. Is there any model that you would suggest having looked into ways in which we could then fund groups that could work towards building this democratic movement from the ground up without the worry of the Iranian regime looking over their shoulder and the fear that seems to be increasing among these democratic groups?
Sam Brownback: I think that is a very difficult question because of the very nature of the regime and the ruthlessness of the regime and their willingness to imprison people, whole families, if somebody takes an act of what was already stated about the bus strike taking place. Yet, there are a lot of groups willing to communicate from outside Iran into Iran and work with people inside Iran on that basis.
And there are organized groups inside of Iran. I think it's going to be a difficult process to do and to maintain people's safety at the same time, but in some of the strikes and organizations a lot of the message was communicated from outside, but they tapped a core of people inside that said we want change, we want an open society in this country. And that's why I think you're going to have to work both outside and inside Iran to get this done.
And I think, as well, that's probably one of the issues the Administration is considering about how can you effectively do that and not put people's lives wholesale in jeopardy in the process. And it's a tough line to follow, but I don't think, again, that it's one we should give up on.
Audience Member: Senator, if all diplomatic efforts fail, do you think the United States should take military action? Would you agree with Senator McCain that anything [indiscernible] military action [indiscernible] Iran nuclear weapons?
Sam Brownback: Well, I'm not going to comment on Senator McCain's comment and his view. In my comments here and what I've said to you, I believe change happens from within on Iran, and I think that's what we should be supporting. I don't see the viable military options when you're looking at Iran, and that's why I've been an advocate for some period of time of working on internal democracy building inside Iran and outside of it.
And you've got a fertile field to be able to do this with. You have a lot of blockage from getting there from the regime, but the people don't like this regime, and they don't like what this regime is doing. And I think we should work within that setting, rather than looking at the military options.
Audience Member: Senator Brownback, when are we going to have other members of Congress have the understanding or perhaps five percent of the understanding that you have about Iran? I want to congratulate you, sir, really for following the line that you have. The issue really is that Iran has 840 trillion cubic feet of gas, and no one has pointed out that that's enough for the next 200 years. Why hasn't anyone pointed out that Iran can export $50 billion worth of gas for the next 200 years and have enough for a population of over 100 million? Why has this not been pointed out and the fact that it costs six times as much to produce nuclear power per kilowatt than it does for our natural gas?
Sam Brownback: I think people have that understanding. What you've got is a situation where the war on terrorism is a tough war, and then, in typical fashion, you go into it very aggressively, very committed, and then the further away from the defining event, which was 9/11 for us on this, the people go, well, I'm kind of tired. I'm kind of tired of carrying this on forward. And there has been much success that's taken place, and there's been a lot of spread of liberty and democracy in a region of the world that has not known it.
The problem we face now is your lead sponsor of terrorism is the regime in Iran, and how do you confront that with a nation that you grow weary after a period of time. And that's what I'm building here is, I think the key case for this is embracing and supporting the Iranian people in their own effort to change that government in Tehran and in building that and in investing in building that. And that's the case I'm trying to build, given the situation and the status and the view of the American public and where we are today.
Audience Member: Thank you, Senator. I'm [indiscernible]. I'm a Reagan [indiscernible] Fellow at the National Endowment of Democracy.
I'm Iranian-American living in Iran. Sir, I just have one question for you and the message you want to send to the Iranian people and I assume to people like myself. How do you justify the relationship that the US Congress has with ANKO, which, as you know, is a terrorist organization. We're talking about terrorist organizations distinct apart from this, of the USA, responsible for both the murder of Americans and Iranians? If you could explain that relationship to me, while sending your message out to the Iranian people, I'd be grateful.
Sam Brownback: I've worked with and visited with a number of Iranian groups over a period of time, and I find it difficult myself to be able to appraise what each is doing and what each stands for, saying as a due diligence process. So we rely upon the US government and others and their determination on it. But I think they should constantly review that, review the appraisal that they have of various groups.
There are a lot of Iranian groups. There are a lot of Iranian-American groups. And the ability of a member of Congress to be able to appraise the quality and what they stand for versus what they don't. Nobody supports a group that has killed US citizens, has killed Iranian citizens, at all, and people don't support that. But others come forward and say, well, but we are opposed to this regime, and there has been change that has taken place within that group. And you try to appraise that, and I think different members of Congress say I can't really appraise what that is.
I do know today my objective is that we somehow have to confront the regime in Tehran, and the best answer I can give to you is that it's a difficult appraisal for different members of Congress to make with the limited amount of information that they have and the objective of trying to confront a regime, a dictatorial regime, in Tehran today that seeks our destruction and seeks that of others in the region. And that's, I think, really the best I can comment on that.
Dany's pulling me from the platform, and I want to express my thank you to you for your interest in this topic. And I also wanted to invite your thoughts and ideas on this.
This is a very active area of policy discussion and one that I think a lot of people are legitimately wondering what are the steps that we can move forward with and what could work? And what could be done and what would be useful and what would be harmful that we want to stay away from? So that this is something that we really need a good and robust discussion on as we confront the lead sponsor - leading government sponsor - of terrorism from around the world.
I want to thank you, Dany. I want to thank AEI for sponsoring this conference.