Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and other senior figures in the Islamic Republic repeatedly threatened that, were America to withdraw from the nuclear agreement, their country would immediately do likewise and resume the activities the deal proscribed. In truth, write Yigal Carmon and A. Savyon, this threat has proved an empty one:
The Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei, . . . in a speech following the U.S. withdrawal from the deal, did not announce that Iran was [itself] withdrawing, as he had stated in the past that he would if the U.S. did. Furthermore, he has given President Rouhani increasing room to maneuver in reaching new agreements with the Europeans. This was also Khamenei’s modus operandi when the agreement was accepted—he spoke against it at the same time as he approved it. Iran has no real tools to deal with the U.S.’s withdrawal from the agreement, or with the Europeans’ anticipated withdrawal from it as well, which may happen because they have no option. . . .
There has also been a shift in Iran’s position concerning its nuclear program and the resumption of its uranium enrichment in excess of the percentage permitted it by the nuclear deal. While prior to President Trump’s announcement [of American withdrawal], Iranian regime spokesmen had threatened to renew uranium enrichment, since the announcement the regime has taken no steps aimed at doing so, or at resuming activity in any other areas of its nuclear program.
Carmon and Savyon see similar timidity when it comes to tensions with Israel over Syria:
Iran is not ready for a widescale confrontation with Israel, and the steps it is taking in the hostilities are minimal. It has announced a policy of restraint, and has responded in measured fashion, one time only, to the serial Israeli attacks that caused Iranian loss of life and damage to Iranian battle arrays in Syria.
As on previous occasions, Iran is, for the time being, refraining from publishing any reports on the May 10 widescale Israeli attacks that struck as many as 50 Iranian targets in Syria. The Iranian media’s reports on the hail of Iranian rockets on Israeli military targets in the Golan Heights depict this as an operation carried out by the Syrian army, not by Iran, and in response to an Israeli attack that preceded it. Iran also is refraining, in its media, from presenting the Israeli attacks as a direct Israel-Iran confrontation. As far as Iran is concerned, any postponement of all-out confrontation with Israel is preferable, because Iran has not yet completed all steps of its deployment in the region, and U.S. forces still remain in Syria.
Sign Up For Our E-Mail List Get the latest from Mosaic right in your inbox
Sign up now for unlimited access