by Zhao Yi
WASHINGTON, July 25 (Xinhuanet) -- Following the finalization of the 9/11 Commission report, Iran has once again become a target of US government slams.
US President George W. Bush said last week that his government is investigating possible connections between Iran and the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, thus renewing his periodic warnings to Iran, one of the two remaining members of his "Axis of evil."
"We will continue to look and see if the Iranians were involved," Bush said during a brief question-and-answer session in the Oval Office last Monday.
Stressing that he has long expressed his concerns about Iran, Bush slammed Iran as "a totalitarian society where free people arenot allowed to exercise their rights as human beings."
He insisted that it is a must for Iran to stop harboring al Qaeda leaders, to dismantle its nuclear programs, and to stop funding Hezbollah of Lebanon and other terrorist organizations if Iran would like to have better relations with the United States.
Local mass media observed that Bush's remarks were his toughestabout Iran since April 21, when he told newspaper editors meeting in Washington that the development of a nuclear weapon by Iran "isintolerable" and that if the Iranians do not give up that quest "they will be dealt with, starting through the United Nations."
Comparing with Bush's tough words, it seems that US National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice was trying to draw a line between ex-Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and the current Iranian leaders.
Last Friday, Rice said in a TV interview that the situation in Iran is different from that of Iraq when the latter under Saddam'srule defied the international community by invading neighboring Kuwait in 1990, using weapons of mass destruction in the Iran-Iraqwar, and refusing in 1998 to allow UN inspectors in.
Rice claimed that Iran's problem lies in its "ties to terrorism." She also accused Iran of failing to live up to its internationalobligations on its nuclear program. But when asked if Iran would be a more suitable target for US military action, Rice said, "I don't think that the decision to go to war in Iraq necessarily means that you have to make a similar decision in Iran."
Iran has categorically denied US accusations, noting that the Bush administration tying Iran to al Quaeda was part of a US cover-up to draw attention away from its failings in Iraq.
Increasingly alarmed over Iran's failure to come clean about its arms programs, the US Congress is becoming tougher. Since House Resolution 398 was passed on May 6, a similar Senate resolution calling for punitive actions, mainly through broad new UN sanctions, is expected to be put to a vote, congressional sources say.
It was reported that a few people in the congress also plan to introduce an Iran Liberation act this fall, modeled on the Iraq Liberation Act that mandated government change in Baghdad. The goals would be the same for Iran including a regime change, congressional officials said.
By contrast, some top foreign policy officials, including former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brezinski and former Director of Central Intelligence Agency Robert M. Gates, are calling for diverse efforts at diplomatic rapprochement.
A press release issued by the Council on Foreign Relations lastweek calls for "systematic and pragmatic engagement" with Iran, saying that "the lack of sustained engagement with Iran harms American interests, and direct dialogue with Tehran on specific areas of mutual concern should be pursued."
Citing the opinions of the two sides, leading American newspaper The Washington Post pointed out that the United States is at the crossroads on issues of Iran. The newspaper quoted both US congressional officials and foreign policy analysts as predicting that the Bush administration is unlikely to give a formal shape to the Iran policy, except to press for Tehran's fullcooperation with the United Nations on its nuclear program. Enditem