Twenty years after the revolution, Iran continues to present a complex set of challenges for the West. Its nuclear program has continued to advance despite years of negotiating efforts and a slowly tightening noose of sanctions.Its sponsorship of international terrorist groups remains a regional threat. Its bellicose anti-Israeli rhetoric persists. It is also clear that the far-reaching political turmoil that followed the fraudulent presidential election in June 2009 has still not abated. Yet Iran is also a critical factor in the two most important Western military theaters of the last decade? Afghanistan and Iraq. Its oil and gas reserves are among the world?s largest. And the significance of its role in the region and within Shia Islam more broadly is undeniable.The new U.S. administration?s engagement initiative has provided a potential opening for navigating these varied issues and interests. Yet not only has it so far been rebuffed by Iran?s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, it has even caused transatlantic tensions, as differences have appeared over how to respond to the repression of political protests, and to the most recent discoveries about Iran?s nuclear program.moreless
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