Iran morphing into military dictatorship: Hillary

Iran morphing into military dictatorship: Hillary Washington: Iran is morphing into a military dictatorship, US Secretary of State today warned, even as she underlined Washington's determination to step up international pressure on Tehran to negotiate seriously on its controversial nuclear programme.

"I don't think there's any doubt that Iran is morphing into a military dictatorship with a sort of religious ideological veneer," Hillary Clinton said at the Council on Foreign Relations, a Washington-based think-tank.

"It is becoming the province of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and in concert with some of the clerical and political leadership," she said.

Responding to a question after she delivered a major foreign policy speech at think-tank, the Secretary said the US is stepping up international pressure on Iran to negotiate seriously on its nuclear programme.

She said Iran is under tremendous pressure following recent sanctions against it by the UN, the US and other countries of the world.

"Early returns from implementation of the sanctions are that they're feeling the economic effects. We would hope that that would lead them to reconsider their positions, not only with respect to nuclear weapons but, frankly, the export of terrorism," she underlined.

She accused Iran of assisting Hezbollah and Hamas and trying to destabilise many countries in the region and beyond, "where they have provided support and funding for terrorist activities as far away as Argentina".

"So I think that there is a very sad confluence of events occurring inside Iran that I think eventually -- but I can't put a time frame on it -- the Iranian people themselves will respond to," she said. "

Noting that Iran is beginning to feel the impact of these sanctions, she said beyond what governments are doing, the international financial and commercial sectors are also starting to recognise the risks of doing business with Iran.

"Sanctions and pressures, however, are not ends in themselves. They are the building blocks of leverage for a negotiated solution to which we and our partners remain committed," Clinton said.

The top US diplomat said the choice for Iran's leaders is clear, and they have to decide whether they accept their obligations, or increasing isolation and the costs that come with it.

"And we will see how Iran decides," Clinton said.