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Iran heading for military rule: US

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said on Monday that the United States feared Iran was drifting toward a military dictatorship, with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps seizing key positions in Iran’s political, military, and economic establishment.

world Updated: Feb 16, 2010 00:59 IST

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said on Monday that the United States feared Iran was drifting toward a military dictatorship, with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps seizing key positions in Iran’s political, military, and economic establishment.

“That is how we see it,” Clinton said on Monday to a televised town hall meeting with students at a university here.

“We see that the government in Iran, the supreme leader, the president, the Parliament, is being supplanted and that Iran is moving towards a military dictatorship.”

The United States, she said, was aiming a new set of tougher United Nations sanctions at the Revolutionary Guard Corps, which controls Iran’s nuclear program, though she reiterated that the United States had no plans to carry out a military strike against the Iranian government.

Clinton’s remarks about the role of the Revolutionary Guard Corps were remarkably blunt, given her audience here in Qatar, a Persian Gulf emirate that maintains close ties with Iran. She also made it clear that the United States would protect Gulf countries from Iranian aggression, echoing a reference she made last year to the United States extending a so-called “defence umbrella” around the Persian Gulf.

“We will always defend ourselves, and we will always defend our friends and allies and we will certainly defend the countries who are in the Gulf who face the greatest immediate nearby threat from Iran,” she said.

“We also are talking at length with a lot of our friends in the Gulf about what they need defensively in the event that Iran pursues its nuclear ambitions.” Clinton spoke before flying to Saudi Arabia for meetings with King Abdullah and the foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal.

Her comments on Monday underscored the Obama administration’s determination to single out the elite corps as a way to curb Iran’s nuclear program.

Only last Wednesday, the Treasury Department imposed sanctions on a commander and four companies linked to the corps.

The Treasury said it froze the assets of four affiliates of a sprawling construction conglomerate owned by the Revolutionary Guards, as well as those of Gen. Rostam Qasemi, who oversees the companies, because they are accused of being involved in Iran’s effort to manufacture nuclear weapons.

The administration is also working on a series of sanctions that would publicly single out the corps’ vast array of companies, banks and other entities. the new york times