The Khatemi Factor: How Much Does It Matter?

Change in Iran is in the air, and it could be dramatic--but this is speculative and both the timetable and the actual policy implications are impossible to specify.

Issue: Spring 1998

Since early last year, an increasing number of voices have been calling for the relaxation of U.S. economic sanctions against Iran and, indeed, for a general ratcheting down of the U.S. effort to isolate Iran diplomatically. These have not been just any voices: Very senior former U.S. government officials have been involved, including former National Security Advisers Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft, and former Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs Richard Murphy. Similar pronouncements have been made by former Ambassadors David Mack and William Rugh, by Rep. Lee Hamilton (senior Democrat on the House International Relations Committee), and by former National Security Council staffer Richard Haass (now director of foreign policy studies at the Brookings Institution) among many others. Many if not most of these ministrations, it is worth noting, were voiced before the election of Mohammed Khatemi to the Iranian presidency this past summer.

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