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Mistrust between the United States and Iran's Islamic regime has run deep for over two decades. Many experts say that all factions in Iran are united on major national security issues and that U.S.-Iran relations might not improve unless or until the Islamic regime is removed or moderates substantially, even if a nuclear deal is reached and implemented. The Administration and many experts believe that Iran has become emboldened by the installation of pro-Iranian regimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the new strength of Hezbollah in Lebanon, and that Iran now seeks to press its advantage to strengthen regional Shiite movements and possibly drive the United States out of the Gulf. Others reach an opposite conclusion, stating that Iran now feels more encircled than ever by pro-U.S. regimes and U.S. forces guided by a policy of pre-emption, and Iran is redoubling its efforts to develop WMD and other capabilities to deter the United States. Some say that, despite Ahmadinejad's presidency, the United States and Iran have a common interest in stability in the Persian Gulf and South Asia regions in the aftermath of the defeat of the Taliban and the regime of Saddam Hussein and that major diplomatic overtures to Iran should be explored.
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Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs
(1) The Assembly also has the power to amend Iran's constitution.
(2) The Council of Guardians consists of six Islamic jurists and six secular lawyers. The six Islamic jurists are appointed by the Supreme Leader. The six lawyers on the Council are selected by the judiciary but confirmed by the Majles (parliament).
(3) Rafsanjani was constitutionally permitted to run because a third term would not have been consecutive with his previous two terms.
(4) In the 2001 presidential election, the Council permitted 10 out of the 814 registered candidates.
(5) Sources: State Department reports on human rights and on religious freedom. http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2006/78852.htm; http://www.state.gov/ g/drl/rls/irf/2005/51599.htm.
(6) Other names by which this group is known is the Mojahedin-e-Khalq Organization (MEK or MKO) and the National Council of Resistance (NCR).
(7) The designation was made under the authority of the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (P.L. 104-132).
(8) Cloud, David. "U.S., Iran Hit Bumpy Terrain on Road to Rapprochement." Wall Street Journal, May 12, 2003.
(9) "Removal of Iran Group From Terror List Sought." Washington Post, November 23, 2002.
(10) Kampeas, Ron. "Iran's Crown Prince Plots Nonviolent Insurrection from Suburban Washington." Associated Press, August 26, 2002.
(11) See http://www.whitehouse.gov/nsc/nss/2006/.
(12) For a more extensive discussion of the IRGC, see Katzman, Kenneth. "The Warriors of Islam: Iran's Revolutionary Guard," Westview Press, 1993.
(13) In November 2006, the IAEA, at U.S. urging, declined to provide technical assistance to the Arak facility on the grounds that it was likely for proliferation purposes.
(14) Lancaster, John and Kamran Khan. "Pakistanis Say Nuclear Scientists Aided Iran." Washington Post, January 24, 2004.
(15) Text at http://www.dni.gov/press_releases/20071203_release.pdf
(16) For Iran's arguments about its program, see Iranian paid advertisement "An Unnecessary Crisis--Setting the Record Straight About Iran's Nuclear Program," in the New York Times, November 18, 2005. P. A11.
(17) Stern, Roger. "The Iranian Petroleum Crisis and United States National Security," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. December 26, 2006.
(18) For text of the agreement, see http://www.iaea.org/NewsCenter/ Focus/IaeaIran/eu_iran14112004.shtml.
(19) In November 2006, the IAEA, at U.S. urging, declined to provide technical assistance to the Arak facility on the grounds that it was likely for proliferation purposes.
(20) Voting in favor: United States, Australia, Britain, France, Germany, Canada, Argentina, Belgium, Ghana, Ecuador, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, Slovakia, Japan, Peru, Singapore, South Korea, India. Against: Venezuela. Abstaining: Pakistan, Algeria, Yemen, Brazil, China, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, and Vietnam.
(21) Voting no: Cuba, Syria, Venezuela. Abstaining: Algeria, Belarus, Indonesia, Libya, South Africa.
(22) See http://daccessdds.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N06/290/88/PDF/ N0629088.pdf?OpenElement.
(23) One source purports to have obtained the contents of the package from ABC News: http://www.basicint.org/pubs/ Notes/BN060609.htm
(24) Broad, William and David Sanger. "Relying On Computer, U.S. Seeks to Prove Iran's Nuclear Aims." New York Times, November 13, 2005.
(25) U.S. Department of State. Country Reports on Terrorism 2007. Released April 30, 2008. http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/crt/2007/103711.htm.
(26) Walsh, Elsa. "Annals of Politics: Louis Freeh's Last Case." The New Yorker, May 14, 2001. The June 21, 2001, federal grand jury indictments of 14 suspects (13 Saudis and a Lebanese citizen) in the Khobar bombing indicate that Iranian agents may have been involved, but no indictments of any Iranians were announced. In June 2002, Saudi Arabia reportedly sentenced some of the eleven Saudi suspects held there. The 9/11 Commission final report asserts that Al Qaeda might have had some as yet undetermined involvement in the Khobar Towers attacks.
(27) This issue is covered in greater depth in CRS Report RS22323, Iran's Activities and Influence in Iraq, by Kenneth Katzman.
(28) CNN "Late Edition" interview with Hamas co-founder Mahmoud Zahar, January 29, 2006.
(29) Hezbollah is believed responsible for the October 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, as well as attacks on U.S. Embassy Beirut facilities in April 1983 and September 1984, and for the hijacking of TWA Flight 847 in June 1985 in which Navy diver Robert Stetham was killed. Hezbollah is also believed to have committed the March 17, 1992, bombing of Israel's embassy in that city, which killed 29 people. Its last known terrorist attack outside Lebanon was the July 18, 1994, bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, which killed 85. On October 31, 2006, Argentine prosecutors asked a federal judge to seek the arrest of Rafsanjani, former Intelligence Minister Ali Fallahian, former Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati, and four other Iranian officials for this attack.
(30) "Israel's Peres Says Iran Arming Hizbollah." Reuters, February 4, 2002.
(31) Rotella, Sebastian. "In Lebanon, Hezbollah Arms Stockpile Bigger, Deadlier." Los Angeles Times, May 4, 2008.
(32) Shadid, Anthony. "Armed With Iran's Millions, Fighters Turn to Rebuilding." Washington Post, August 16, 2006.
(33) See CRS Report RL30588, Afghanistan: Post-War Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy, by Kenneth Katzman.
(34) Gertz, Bill. "Al Qaeda Terrorists Being Held by Iran." Washington Times, July 24, 2003.
(35) Keto, Alex. "White House Reiterates Iran Is Harboring Al Qaeda." Dow Jones Newswires, May 19, 2003.
(36) Gertz, Bill. "CIA Points to Continuing Iran Tie to Al Qaeda." Washington Times, July 23, 2004.
(37) "Tehran Pledges to Crack Down on Militants." Associated Press, July 18, 2005.
(38) Arostegui, Martin. "Uruguay Caught Buying Iran Arms." Washington Times, October 12, 2007.
(39) An exception was the abortive 1985-1986 clandestine arms supply relationship with Iran in exchange for some American hostages held by Hezbollah in Lebanon (the so-called "Iran-Contra Affair"). Iran has an interest section in Washington D.C. under the auspices of the Embassy of Pakistan; it is staffed by Iranian-Americans. The U.S. interest section in Tehran has no American personnel; it is under the Embassy of Switzerland.
(40) Sciolino, Elaine. The Outlaw State: Saddam Hussein's Quest for Power and the Gulf Crisis. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1991. p. 168.
(41) Cooper, Helene and David Sanger. "Strategy on Iran Stirs New Debate at White House." New York Times, June 16, 2007.
(42) The FY2007 defense authorization law (P.L. 109-364) called for a report by the Administration on all aspects of U.S. policy and objectives on Iran (and required the DNI to prepare a national intelligence estimate on Iran, which was released on December 3, 2007 as discussed above).
(43) Fletcher, Michael and Keith Richburg. "Bush Tries to Allay E.U. Worry Over Iran." Washington Post, February 23, 2005.
(44) For an extended discussion of U.S. air strike options on Iran, see Rogers, Paul. Iran: Consequences Of a War. Oxford Research Group, February 2006.
(45) See also, Washington Institute for Near East Policy. The Last Resort: Consequences of Preventive Military Action Against Iran, by Patrick Clawson and Michael Eisenstadt. June …