No major U.S. policy shift on Iran after appointments of kerry, Hagel:expert
U.S. policy on Iran is unlikely to see a major shift after the installation of new secretaries of state and defense, a leading U.S. expert said Wednesday.
The recent confirmation of former Senators John Kerry and Chuck Hagel for the secretaries of state and defense has spurred conjecture of whether the two might soften President Barack Obama' s stance on Iran, but Brookings Institution Senior Fellow Michael O'Hanlon said President Obama has already been clear on the matter.
"Obamaa has already got some pretty strong language on the table," O'Hanlon said.
Tensions between Iran and the U.S.-led West on Tehran's disputed nuclear program are still running high. Obama has repeatedly said that Washington would not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon and all options, including a military one are on the table.
Meanwhile, Iran continues to contend its nuclear program is peaceful, meant for energy and other uses such as medical isotopes.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on Monday told the pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC that President Obama' s threats to use military force against Iran remain on the table, although the president would prefer a diplomatic solution.
"The president of the United States cannot, and does not, bluff. President Barack Obama is not bluffing," Biden said in Washington.
The comments came on the heels of a somewhat heated nomination process of new Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.
Hagel, a decorated Vietnam War veteran and a former Republican senator, was derided by GOP lawmakers for being what they saw as too dovish on hot-button issues such as Iran, as he has opposed U.S.-led sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
But O' Hanlon said Obama' s stance would remain the same no matter who heads the State Department and Pentagon. "(Obama) is the president. Cabinet officials come and go, and none of them make decisions and all of them have been overruled before, not just by (Obama) but in any other administration," he said.
"It' s pretty important to remember that Obama' s own rhetoric on this subject has been pretty firm," O'Hanlon said.
Kerry said Monday there was "finite" time for talks on the contentious nuclear issue to bear fruit, although he gave no details on how long the U.S. would be open to negotiation.
Israel believes Iran is developing nuclear weapons and has threatened to attack the Islamic republic if diplomacy goes sour. Still, Obama does not want to be another former President George W. Bush and would likely be constrained on any overly rapid decision on the use of force, O' Hanlon said.