Senior administration officials refused to talk about the status of the [George W. Bush] policy directive on Iran, on the grounds that it is classified, but they say they have had some success in mobilizing international opinion against Iran's nuclear weapons program. As evidence, they cite recent threats by Russia to cut off nuclear assistance to Tehran and moves by the International Atomic Energy Agency to censure Iran for failing to report the processing of nuclear materials.
Just how far the United States should go in supporting the protests is the subject of heated argument inside and outside the government, even among conservatives. Some argue Iran is ripe for revolution. Others contend there is little guarantee of radical change in Tehran in the three-year period some independent proliferation experts estimate it will take before Iran could acquire nuclear weapons, and the United States should be thinking about other options, including preemptive action against suspected nuclear sites.
The White House has avoided taking a position on the [Sam Brownback] legislation and has restricted its encouragement of democracy in Iran to verbal broadsides against the mullahs. In comments Thursday, [Condoleezza Rice] described Iran's pursuit of weapons of mass destruction as "not acceptable" and said that the United States "cannot tolerate circumstances in which al Qaeda operatives come in and out of Iran." She also accused Iran of stirring up trouble among Shiite communities in southern Iraq.
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