Think tank Hagel chairs issued report saying Iran and U.S. are ‘natural partners’.(FB).
The Washington think tank overseen by President Obama’s defense secretary-designate predicts that Iran one day will be a “natural partner” for the United States and could possess nuclear weapons.It also puts the onus on Israel to make peace with Palestinians, many of whom are governed by Hamas, an Iran-backed terrorist group bent on the destruction of the Jewish state.
The views are contained in a major policy paper by the Atlantic Council, for which former Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska serves as chairman. The paper shows the foreign policy culture from which Mr. Hagel emerges to face Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearings.
The paper also may explain the underpinnings for Mr. Hagel’s dovish views on Iran for which he will receive close scrutiny by fellow Republicans.
Mr. Obama on Monday presented Mr. Hagel as the nominee to replace Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta. Mr. Hagel has taken a far less hawkish stance than Mr. Panetta, who has vowed that Tehran will not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons and talks of a military option to stop the regime.
Iran's Foreign Ministry on Tuesday approved Mr. Hagel’s nomination, saying it hopes his appointment as Pentagon chief would improve relations between the U.S. and the Islamic republic.
Mr. Hagel upbraided President George W. Bush for not offering unconditional talks with Iran’s hard-line Islamic leaders.
He does not emphasize a military option to counter Iran’s nuclear program, and he has suggested that Iran one day will own atomic weapons.In December, the Atlantic Council issued the major position paper — part advice to Mr. Obama in his second term, part vision for the world in the next 17 years.
Mr. Hagel did not write “Envisioning 2030: U.S. Strategy for a Post-Western World,” but it corresponds with his and the Atlantic Council’s efforts to seek global cooperation, not confrontation.
The paper predicts that Iranian hard-liners will be unable to insulate the population from democratic movements in Egypt, Tunisia and other neighboring states.
“It is difficult to envision an already globalized Iranian public not being inspired by regional examples of popular democratic governance,” the Atlantic Council says.
“For U.S. strategy, Iran should be viewed as a potential natural partner in the region. … A post-mullah dominated government shedding Shia [Muslim] ideology could easily return to being a net contributor to stability by 2030.”
The report explains that if a decision were made to normalize relations, “the process of substantially easing sanctions could be accomplished fairly rapidly.” Sanctions “would need to be removed in order to promote normal U.S.-Iran commerce, facilitate U.S. and foreign investment in Iran, to permit U.S. foreign assistance to Iran, and to permit U.S. support for unrestricted international lending to Iran.”
A further necessary step would be Iran’s “removal from the terrorism list,” a designation that triggers automatic sanctions under several different laws. Removal from the list would allow for a “substantial broadening of U.S. economic relations with Iran.”
Katzman argues that Iran would need to receive substantial international investment. The first step would be opening up Iran to receive U.S. foreign aid.
“Congress would need to also delete Iran from a list of countries barred from U.S. assistance under successive foreign aid appropriations laws,” writes Katzman. “Congress could do so when it acts on foreign aid appropriations for any subsequent fiscal year by simply omitting Iran from the list of countries.”
Katzman notes that many of the necessary actions could be done unilaterally. He writes that the administration would have to issue an executive order “lifting the U.S. ban on trade with and investment in Iran,” noting that the “administration has substantial discretion to take this step.”
The president could also use his post to “lobby other governments to approve international loans to Iran for the purpose of fostering its economic development,” the report states.
Additionally, Katzman writes that the president could restore full diplomatic relations with Iran and that Congress could do little about it.
“The president has near total discretion on how to proceed in restoring diplomatic relations, if there were a decision to do so,” the report states. “Congressional ability to block such steps appears to be limited. Attempts by Congress to legislatively prevent a president from establishing full diplomatic relations with any country, including Iran, are likely to falter on constitutional grounds.”Read the full story here.