Americans are being played for fools by Iran—and fooling themselves. There is no case to be made that Iran is not pursuing a nuclear weapons capability. There is no evidence that Iran's decision-makers are willing to stop the nuclear program in exchange for lifting sanctions or anything else. The International Atomic Energy Agency reported on Friday that it has made no progress in its negotiations with Iran and that Iran continues to accelerate its enrichment operations, which are in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions and agreements with the IAEA.
Iran’s threat to close a vital international waterway if stricter sanctions are imposed on Iranian oil exports is more than just bellicose and provocative. It is also a test of U.S. will and commitment in the Persian Gulf at a time when our role in the region is changing.
The Iranian Qods Force plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. in Washington in a terrorist attack using Mexican drug cartel associates shows the complex threat the Iranian regime poses. Had the attack succeeded, it would have marked a dramatic escalation in the Iranian war against Saudi Arabia, which Tehran has hitherto waged primarily by proxy. It would also have been an escalation of the decades-long war Iran has waged against the U.S., which Tehran has fought largely indirectly rather than on American soil.
This article appears in the Winter 2011 issue of Middle East Quarterly.
Seventeen months after the fraudulent June 12, 2009 presidential election, which threw the Islamic Republic into its worst political crisis since the 1979 revolution, and five months into the latest round of international sanctions against Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamene'i is desperate to demonstrate that he is the legitimate supreme authority in Iran.