Leaked Cables Contain Surprising Details About Iran
RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:
DAVID SANGER: Good morning. How are you?
MONTAGNE: Pretty good. What did you learn about the effort to restrain Iran's nuclear program when you looked over these diplomatic exchanges?
SANGER: I think the second thing that we learned was that in their private conversations with the United States, some of them were coming right up to the edge of urging military action, which seemed to be much - go far beyond anything that they had ever said in public.
MONTAGNE: And urging military action by the U.S. against Iran.
SANGER: They, of course - we do not believe that Iran yet has a nuclear weapon, and certainly not one that could fit atop the warhead of one of these missiles. But it does give a more sobering sense of how quickly their missile capability has developed.
MONTAGNE: Well, as you say, most people might be surprised that Arab nations were so concerned - you know, and you're talking about what they were saying. But why would they be so concerned? Because they were - these medium-term missiles could be aimed at them?
SANGER: Right. They're concerned about the missile ranges. But their bigger concern is that, to their mind, an Iran that has a nuclear weapon would seek to dominate the region again. And remember, this goes to the Sunni-Shia divide. Most of these Arab states are Sunni nations. Iran, of course, is Shia. And their biggest concerned is that Iran would rise as the greatest power in the Middle East again.
SANGER: And that's a challenge to the Saudis, to the Egyptians, to smaller countries like the UAE and Bahrain, all of whose leaders you hear from in these cables.
MONTAGNE: Now, do these cables change your understanding of the Obama administration's efforts to contain Iran?
SANGER: But it is impressive to see that from the very first months that they came into office, they really did focus very heavily on this diplomacy and got some results.
MONTAGNE: David, thanks very much.
SANGER: Thank you.
MONTAGNE: Today, Iran's president insisted Iran and its neighbors were all, quote, "friends." Mahmoud Ahmadinejad brushed off the WikiLeaks as mischief by the U.S. aimed at hurting those relationships.
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