Committee on International Relations
U.S. House of Representatives
Henry J. Hyde, Chairman

CONTACT: Sam Stratman, (202) 226-7875, March 7, 2006

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For IMMEDIATE Release

U.S. Policy & Iran: Next Steps
Hyde Schedules Wednesday Oversight Hearing

BACKGROUND - Iran presents one of the most difficult security challenges confronting the international community. Should Iranís clerical regime acquire nuclear weapons, as is its evident aim, it would be able to threaten the energy fields of the Arab countries of the Gulf and close the Straits of Hormuz, through which flows much of the worldís energy supply. Inevitably, regional powers such as Saudi Arabia will seek nuclear weapons of their own so that they will not have to rely on others to secure their survival. Because of Iranís economic importance, it has thus far proven difficult to isolate or pressure successfully.  Japan, for example, derives fifteen percent of its energy from Iran and fully ninety percent of its energy from the Middle East.  What should a Japanese political leader do if that country is asked to cut itself off from Iranian oil?  Because of Iranís size and military capacity, it is hard to coerce militarily Ė and it may prove to be exceedingly difficult to disable its nuclear assets.  Any attempt to do so is likely to strengthen the most retrograde political forces there. Iranís leaders know all this, which may be why they have continued to defy the world, breaking agreements and ignoring international standards of behavior. Iranís internal politics are dominated by a clerical clique that holds power by force but which also enjoys the active support of a strong minority of the Iranian population and the passive support of a larger share.  Iranian nationalist sentiment can be stirred up easily.  At the same time, the United States is popular in Iran Ė not least because we clearly oppose that regime and support the Iranian peopleís true aspirations for peace and economic progress.  The Administration has begun reaching out even more strongly and has proposed a $75 million public diplomacy program in the Fiscal Year 2006 Supplemental budget now under consideration. The Administrationís approach to Iran in earlier years lacked focus, but, during the past year, it has found its footing and concentrated on a diplomatic strategy that has borne fruit Ė not in the sense that Iran has been convinced to change its behavior but in the sense that the world community is more united than ever on the proposition that Iran must change. 

WHAT:                             Oversight Hearing:
                                          United States Policy Toward Iran - Next Steps

WHEN:                             10 a.m., Wednesday, March 8, 2006

WHERE:                           2172 Rayburn House Office Building

WITNESSES:                    Panel I:
                                           The Honorable Nicholas Burns,
                                          
Under Secretary for Political Affairs,
                                           U.S. Department of State; and

                                           The Honorable Robert Joseph,
                                          
Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security,
                                           U.S. Department of State;

                                           Panel II:
                                           John C. Hulsman, Ph.D.
,
                                           The Heritage Foundation;

                                           Michael A. Ledeen, Ph.D.,
                                          
The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research;

                                           Gary Milhollin,
                                           Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control; and

                                           Abbas William Samii, Ph.D.,
                                          
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

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