Today, before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William J. Burns testified on U.S. policy toward Iran. We thought DipNote's readers would be interested in what Under Secretary Burns said:
"...I have no illusions about the grave dangers presented by the behavior of the Iranian regime, or the difficulties of changing that behavior. I am convinced that we cannot do it alone, and that a strong international coalition is crucial. Hard-nosed diplomacy, backed up by all the tools at our disposal and as much leverage as we and our partners can muster, is also an essential ingredient. As Secretary Rice said earlier this year, 'America has no permanent enemies, we harbor no permanent hatreds. Diplomacy, if properly practiced, is not just talking for the sake of talking. It requires incentives and disincentives to make the choice clear to those with whom you are dealing that you will change your behavior if they are willing to change theirs.'
That is the kind of approach that helped produce significant breakthroughs with Libya several years ago, including its abandonment of terrorism and the pursuit of nuclear weapons. It is the kind of approach that is beginning to produce results in our multilateral diplomacy with North Korea. It may or may not produce results on Iran, with whom we have had a relationship burdened by deep-seated grievances and suspicions, and a long history of missed opportunities and crossed signals. But it is important for us to try, bearing in mind that our audience is not only the Iranian regime, but also the Iranian people and the wider international coalition we are seeking to reinforce. At a minimum, it seems to me, it is important to create in this Administration as strong an international diplomatic mechanism as we possibly can to constrain Iranian behavior, on which the next Administration can build. Our choices are not going to get any easier in the months and years ahead, but they will be even more difficult if we don't use all our diplomatic tools wisely now."