Today, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson accused the Quds division of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps of proliferating weapons of mass destruction and sponsoring terrorism. They announecd new unilateral sanctions, the “broadest set of punitive measures imposed on Tehran since 1979.”
In his weekly news conference today, Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, sharply criticized the administration’s move, warning that it brings the United States one step closer to war:
“Unilateral sanctions rarely, ever work,” Hagel said by phone during his weekly news conference. “I just don’t think the unilateral approach and giving war speeches helps the situation. It will just drive the Iranians closer together.” [...]
“It escalates the danger of a military confrontation,” Hagel said.
“I certainly think engagement is critical … direct engagement,” said Hagel. “That’s what great powers do.”
In the press conference today, Rice insisted that the United States continues to pursue the “path of cooperation” with Iran. But the administration’s announcement comes just a day after CQ reported on the administration’s $88-million request to equip B-2 “stealth” bombers with a new 30,000-pound bunker buster — a weapon “meant for the kind of hardened targets found chiefly in Iran.”
On Sunday, Vice President Cheney issued “his sternest warning to date on Iran,” promising that there will be “serious consequences” if Iran continues “on its present course.” President Bush also last week publicly warned for the first time of the risk of “World War III” if Iran gets nuclear weapons.