Iran’s Electoral Strategy

WASHINGTON, DC – Negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program have again hit a wall, but the country’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, appears unconcerned. Indeed, Khamenei seems convinced that neither the United States nor Israel will attack its nuclear facilities – at least not before the US presidential election in November. 

Ironically, while Khamenei is no fan of democracy, he relies on the fact that his principal enemies are bound by democratic constraints. Khamenei controls Iran’s nuclear program and its foreign policy, but the US and Israel must work to reach consensus not only within their respective political systems, but also with each other.

Iran’s leaders, who closely follow Israeli political debates, believe that Israel would not launch an assault on their nuclear facilities without America’s full cooperation, because unilateral action would jeopardize Israel’s relations with its most important strategic ally. Given that an Israeli offensive would need to be coordinated with the US, while an American assault would not require Israeli military support, Iran would consider both to be American attacks.

But Iran’s leaders remain skeptical of either scenario, despite America’s official position that “all options are on the table” to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons capability. So far, they simply do not feel enough pressure to consider a compromise. In fact, Iran’s leaders continue to deride Israel from afar, calling the country an “insult to humanity,” or a “tumor” in the region that must be eradicated.