JO - US expands effort to subvert Iran's Islamic regime
US expands effort to subvert Iran's Islamic regime
Friday, February 17, 2006
WASHINGTON (AP) - When Iranians turn on their television sets and radios, the Bush administration wants it to become a political act.
The administration is stepping up its efforts to subvert Iran's Islamic regime by setting aside more money for US broadcast operations into the country.
Political dissidents, labour union leaders and human rights activists in Iran also can count on more support from Washington, pending approval by Congress.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice asked Congress on Wednesday for a $75 million (euro63 million) supplemental appropriation, much of which will go into round-the-clock Farsi language television broadcasts.
The plans also specify improvements in US government radio transmissions to Iran that will be aided by satellite technology. At present, money to help Iran's democrats in 2006 is $10 million (euro8.4 million).
A separate appropriation channeLled through the National Endowment for Democracy also supports programmes targeted at Iran.
Rice's announcement before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee came as the administration prepares to take on Iran in the UN Security Council over its nuclear programmes.
Rice said the United States is seeking multilateral sanctions against Iran and could impose unilateral penalties if the Security Council should take action that Washington considers to be insufficiently harsh.
"The United States wishes to reach out to the Iranian people and support their desire to realise their own freedom and to secure their own democratic and human rights," Rice said in her testimony.
It's hard to say just how far the administration will get with its push for a democratic Iran.
James Phillips, Middle East expert at the Heritage Foundation, believes the process may take too long, if it succeeds at all, to suit the administration's strategic needs.
"The timetable for Iran to secure the capacity to build a nuclear weapon is probably shorter than the timetable for moving successfully to democracy," Phillips said.