WASHINGTON — The Obama administration has decided to retain the official who led the Bush administration's effort to squeeze Iran with economic sanctions, providing an important clue on how it intends to approach the Islamic Republic.
Stuart Levey, Treasury Department undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, will remain in his post, officials said. Levey has overseen an effort to dissuade international banks from dealing with Iranian government agencies and firms that U.S. officials believe support terrorism or help defy U.N. resolutions on nuclear nonproliferation.
The Obama team has promised to open talks with Iran in hopes of convincing officials in Tehran to give up their nuclear ambitions. President Obama has said that he wants both "bigger carrots and bigger sticks" to prevent the possibility of a nuclear-armed Iran. The move signals that Obama will continue to aggressively pressure Tehran, even as he offers engagement.
Administration officials have said that U.S. military force remains an option as well. Tehran insists that its nuclear program is for producing energy, but U.S. officials and their allies suspect Iran of pursuing atomic weaponry.