WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A military strike on Iran would be unlikely to force changes in Tehran’s nuclear policy, the Rand research organization said on Thursday in an analysis recommending long-term policies to deal with the country.
The United States is leading international efforts to rein in Iran’s suspected effort to develop nuclear weapons. Tehran says its nuclear program is for purely civilian energy purposes.
“If Iran’s facilities were to be bombed, public support for any retaliation its government took would likely be widespread,” the Rand report concluded.
The United States also accuses Iran of arming insurgents in Iraq and meddling in Iraqi politics.
The Rand report came amid increased tensions with Iran, which on Wednesday test-fired nine missiles it said could reach Israel and U.S. assets, and warned Washington and Israel it was ready to retaliate for any attack over its nuclear projects.
“Attacks on Iran proper would generate a great deal of ill-will and, in our view, would be unlikely to change Iranian policy,” said the report by the independent research group.
It added that “U.S. policy should focus on creating conditions for effective relations over the long haul.”
The report recommended an expansion of contacts and exchanges with Iranian citizens; muting U.S. policy statements advocating “regime change” and penalizing the Iranian government and its officials for pursuing policies that harm U.S. interests.
“The U.S. government has some ability to foster favorable trends in Iran, but these policies will take time to come to fruition,” the Rand report concluded.
The New Yorker magazine reported last month the United States was escalating covert operations against Iran aimed at destabilizing its leadership.
The article said U.S. Special Operations Forces had been conducting cross-border operations from southern Iraq since last year.
The U.S. ambassador in Iraq, Ryan Crocker, in a CNN interview last month, denied the allegations of cross-border operations.
Reporting by JoAnne Allen; Editing by Peter Cooney