US SECRETARY of State Hillary Clinton has said Iran is becoming a military dictatorship, a new accusation in the midst of rising tensions over Iran’s nuclear ambitions and crackdown on anti-government protesters.
Speaking to Arab students at Carnegie Mellon’s Doha campus, Clinton said Iran’s Revolutionary Guard corps appears to have so much power, it effectively is supplanting the government.
“Iran is moving toward a military dictatorship,” she said. “That is our view.”
Last week, the US Treasury said that it was freezing the assets in US jurisdictions of a Revolutionary Guard general and four subsidiaries of a previously penalised construction company he runs because of their alleged involvement in producing and spreading weapons of mass destruction.
The Revolutionary Guard has long been a force separate from the ordinary armed forces. It now has a hand in every critical area, including missile development, oil resources, dam building, road construction, telecommunications and nuclear technology.
It also has absorbed the paramilitary Basij as a part of its command structure, giving the militia greater funding and a stronger presence in Iran’s internal politics.
Asked if the US is planning a military attack on Iran, Clinton said “no.” The US is focused on gaining international support for sanctions “that will be particularly aimed at those enterprises controlled by the Revolutionary Guard, which we believe is in effect supplanting the government of Iran,” she said.
Meanwhile, the head of Iran’s nuclear programme said the country received a proposal last week from the US, Russia and France.
Iran said that it was studying the proposal purportedly made after the country announced it was enriching uranium to a higher level than previously acknowledged. The ILNA agency quoted Ali Akbar Salehi as saying various countries have offered Iran proposals on a nuclear fuel swap.
The Obama administration is trying to “send a message to Iran” that the US is still open to engagement “but that we will not stand idly by while you pursue a nuclear programme that can be used to threaten your neighbours and even beyond,” Clinton said.
Later, she added: “The civilian leadership is either preoccupied with its internal political situation or is ceding ground to the Revolutionary Guard.”
Clinton said it appears the Revolutionary Guard is in charge of Iran’s nuclear programme and the country changing course “depends on whether the clerical and political leadership begin to reassert themselves.
“I’m not predicting what will happen but I think the trend with this greater and greater military lock on leadership decisions should be disturbing to Iranians as well as those of us on the outside.”
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