Despite modest pain inflicted by United Nations sanctions as well as European and U.S. financial pressures, Iran's government is unlikely to bend to western demands on its nuclear program anytime soon, a senior European diplomat tells U.S. News. The resistance comes in part from the Iranian regime's belief that the Bush administration still wants to remove it from power.
"Everyone in the regime, including the reformists, is worried about regime change," says the official, who has followed Iranian affairs for years. The Iranian attitude, according to the diplomat, is one of resisting U.S.-led pressure to stop uranium enrichment because if Tehran compromises, officials there believe that Washington will then demand more: "If they are convinced that nothing they do makes a difference, they have no incentive to change their behavior. What's in it for them?" says the diplomat.
The envoy adds that Iranian officials suspect that U.S. operatives have been involved in stoking antiregime, ethnic-based tensions among Arabs and Baluchis inside Iran—and that is interpreted in Tehran as evidence of a U.S. regime-change intent. To be effective, the diplomat says, U.S. policy should make clear that it does not seek to engineer the removal of the Iranian government.
"We need to break the link" between regime change and western policy aims on the nuclear and other fronts, the official says, adding, "in a convincing way."