by Ray Takeyh, Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations
Reviewed by Francis P. Sempa, Contributing Editor
In testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ray Takeyh explained the domestic political considerations among Iran's leaders that "are likely to complicate Tehran's path to a settlement" of the nuclear issue.
The key figure in the Iranian leadership, Ali Khamenei, according to Takeyh, "needs America as an enemy and a robust nuclear infrastructure to legitimize his rule." Khamaenei's dilemma, however, is that the pursuit of nuclear weapons threatens to further erode Iran's economy due to Western sanctions, and a collapse of Iran's economy could end his rule.
Takeyh explained that more than thirty years after the Islamic Revolution, Iran maintains its ideological approach to foreign policy. This approach legitimizes the regime's domestic oppression and hold on power. Beset by Western enemies, Iran must resort to obtaining nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, Iran's next generation of leaders appears to accept this approach to foreign policy.
Maintaining Western sanctions may compel Khamenei to make a choice between nuclear weapons and a survivable Iranian economy. Sanctions, according to Takeyh, offer the best hope of ending Iran's nuclear threat.