October 19, 2021 | The Wall Street Journal

Iran Won’t Stop Until It Has a Nuclear Weapon

Khamenei and his regime haven’t gone to all this trouble merely to become a ‘threshold state.’
October 19, 2021 | The Wall Street Journal

Iran Won’t Stop Until It Has a Nuclear Weapon

Khamenei and his regime haven’t gone to all this trouble merely to become a ‘threshold state.’

Excerpt

It is a common hope within Washington’s foreign-policy establishment that no matter how close Iran gets to the atomic threshold, it won’t detonate a bomb. The intelligence community claims Tehran isn’t currently taking steps to build a nuclear weapon. Many want to believe that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s fatwa against the production and use of nuclear weapons will keep Iran a threshold state. These hopes are delusional.

The Islamic Republic of Iran is led by an ardent ideological regime that frequently relies on conspiracies to explain its predicament. Leaders of the regime speak incessantly about the cabal of Zionists and Jews who control America and plot against the Islamic revolution. Mr. Khamenei and his henchmen haven’t spent billions and endured a tidal wave of sanctions and social unrest only to get close to a nuclear weapon. They will build the bomb as soon as they can and justify it afterward.

The Iranian theocracy has gradually transformed itself. Mr. Khamenei has purged the pragmatists from Iranian leadership. The reformers who rallied around Mohammad Khatami (president from 1997 through 2005) and believed the theocracy could be softened, even superannuated, through the ballot box have been banned from the corridors of power. Even conservatives who contemplated diplomatic engagement with the West to enhance the regime’s status and economic power, like former President Hassan Rouhani (2013-21) and former Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani (2008-20), are denied a seat at the table. Iran is becoming less subtle. The new president, Ebrahim Raisi, is the personification of the new elite—cruel, dogmatic and indifferent to Western sensibilities.

Mr. Gerecht, a former Iran targets officer in the Central Intelligence Agency, is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Mr. Takeyh is a senior fellow at the Council for Foreign Relations and the author of “The Last Shah: America, Iran and the Fall of the Pahlavi Dynasty. Follow Reuel on Twitter @ReuelMGerecht. FDD is a Washington, DC-based, non-partisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy.

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Issues:

Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran Nuclear Iran Sanctions Sanctions and Illicit Finance