During an April 2008 visit to Saudi Arabia, Petraeus and former U.S. envoy to Baghdad Ryan Crocker got an earful from the king and other officials about the need to confront Iran's nuclear program and its ambitions in Iraq. And during an April 2009 meeting, Saudi Prince Turki Kabeer warned American, Russian and Dutch diplomats that Riyadh could not stomach Iran's continued enrichment of uranium. "We are OK with nuclear electrical power and desalinization, but not with enrichment," he was quoted as saying.
Still, one Saudi diplomat urged Americans in 2008 to avoid war and launch talks. An Omani official asked Americans to take a more nuanced view of the Iranian issue and to question whether other Arab leaders' entreaties for war were based on logic or emotion.
Several documents showed the extent to which the U.S. has been desperately attempting to obtain detailed information on Iran's political scene and economy by interviewing sources at American diplomatic outposts in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and Azerbaijan.
The U.S. has not had diplomatic relations with Iran for decades, and the documents show that Americans repeatedly have relied on European allies with embassies in Tehran to gain understanding of the Islamic Republic. According to one cable, former British envoy Geoffrey Adams advised Americans to be "steady and firm, tough but not aggressive" in late 2007 negotiations between Iranian and American officials over the security situation in Iraq.
"The current Iranian regime is effectively a fascist state and the time has come to decide on next steps," French diplomat Jean-David Levitte advised U.S. officials in September 2009.
The cables detail Iran's alleged breaches of law and protocol under Ahmadinejad and his hard-line entourage. A source at the U.S. Consulate in Dubai alleged that Iran used the Red Crescent Society to funnel weapons and militants into Iraq and Lebanon.
One cable quoted U.N. weapons inspectors as telling American officials in Vienna that Iran refused to hand over original design plans for an enrichment facility near the city of Qom. The cable quotes the U.N. officials as saying that during an inspection of the facility, Iranian technicians were "steered by unseen observers" who dispatched notes during meetings and insisted on recording all conversations.
Daragahi reported from Beirut and Richter from Washington.