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More Iran sanctions would bolster suspicion that U.S. goal is regime change, U.S. intelligence veteran says

November 6th, 2013
03:55 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Increasing sanctions on Iran at a time of landmark direct negotiations would increase Iranian suspicion that the U.S. is seeking regime change, a former CIA officer and nearly 30-year veteran of the U.S. intelligence community said on Wednesday.

“It simply adds to the perception, which is already pretty prevalent in Tehran – it’s a suspicion that none other than the Supreme Leader holds – that we in the United States aren’t really interested in an agreement, we’re interested in regime change,” Paul Pillar told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.

Robert Menendez, a Democratic Senator, told Amanpour on Wednesday that he was calling on Iran to suspend enrichment as a “good-faith” effort in negotiations.

“What I do not understand is a negotiating posture in which we suspend our actions, we give them sanctions relief on existing sanctions, yet they continue to be able to enrich, to be able to have more sophisticated centrifuges,” Menendez said.

Pillar dismissed that idea as a logical fallacy.

It is “quite correct that the existing sanctions are one of the major ingredients in the Iranian calculus, and why they are sitting down at the negotiating table,” he said.

“It does not follow from that, however, that adding more sanctions to the mountain of sanctions that are already in effect is the way to close the deal.”

Pillar told Amanpour that any nuclear deal between the two sides would come as part of a package.

“I don’t think either side, either the Iranians or the U.S., should be looking for a unilateral move from the other side,” he said. “We would not expect the Iranians to expect from us to simply start taking sanctions off unilaterally, and we should not expect from them to simply start stopping aspects of their nuclear program unilaterally.”

There are two key points when it comes to using sanctions as a negotiating chip, Pillar said.

“One is, If there’s no movement at the negotiating table from the other side, we keep the sanctions in place,” he said. “But the other, just as important, is to persuade the other side that if they do make the kind of concessions that we want, it’s part of a package in which sanctions come off.”


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Iran • Latest Episode
soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Fardin

    It seems Mr Pillar likes very much negotiating for sake of negotiation at the table which somehow doesn't fit his profile!

    November 6, 2013 at 4:34 pm | Reply
  2. jimmy lim

    What utter rubbish. What is so wrong with regime change if the regime is heinous and brutal and does not respect human rights and democracy

    November 6, 2013 at 11:29 pm | Reply
    • scrut

      The same goes for the US – even on a much larger scale. So you say it would be perfectly OK for another nation to aggressively force a regime change in Washington, then?

      November 11, 2013 at 4:57 am | Reply
  3. pedram fanian

    Mr. Pillar, in a recent article, writes: "Reneging on an agreement also would go directly against the declaration of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that "production, stockpiling and use" of nuclear weapons are forbidden under Islam. A clear violation and movement toward a nuclear weapon therefore would involve almost as much of a loss of face for the supreme leader as it would for him to give up altogether Iran's uranium enrichment program, as hard-liners in the United States and Israel unrealistically demand."

    How naive can you be, Mr. Pillar, to believe that Ayotallah Khamenei is transparent and serious in his deceleration on nuclear weapons and that he would would be concerned about a loss face if he were to violate it?

    November 7, 2013 at 12:39 am | Reply
  4. Ron Salehi

    Robert Menendez would not know good faith if it slapped him in the face. He is simply a war monger.

    November 7, 2013 at 1:30 am | Reply
  5. ashok

    Sanctions have hurt ordinary Iranians who, in any case, have limited influence over their government and its policies.

    November 7, 2013 at 3:35 am | Reply
  6. Ali

    Dear Mrs Amanpour ,
    Iran is not "The Mullah Regime" & The Mullah Regime is not "Iran".
    Please dont write : Iran Sanctions , Iran s Nuclear Program , Iran ...

    November 7, 2013 at 3:01 pm | Reply
  7. changeirannow

    A regime change though the Iranian people is what Iran needs .A host of “systemic and systematic violations of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights” continue to plague Iran despite the Teheran government’s new “softer image” to the outside world after the aggressively confrontational era of former president Ahmadinejad, and the seemingly diplomatic flexibility on the country’s nuclear weapons program, there’s little question that this country of 76 million people suffers from widespread human rights abuses based on gender, religion, and obviously political opinion.

    November 7, 2013 at 10:15 pm | Reply

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