Assessments

Iran's Options Against the U.S. and Israel

Jun 9, 2018 | 10:00 GMT
An Iranian military truck carries surface-to-air missiles past a portrait of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during a military parade in Tehran.

An Iranian military truck carries surface-to-air missiles past a portrait of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during a parade April 18, 2018, in Tehran. For now, Iran will shy away from a conventional response to U.S. and Israeli pressure, as it hopes to maintain European support for the nuclear deal.

(ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images)

The withdrawal of the United States from the Iran nuclear deal, the looming imposition of more U.S. sanctions, and Israel's determination to attack it inside Syria to prevent it from entrenching itself there present Iran with a challenge. Like any country intent on defending itself, Iran is compelled to retaliate against these two stronger military powers. But because Iran is intent on retaining as many of the economic benefits of the existing framework of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the nuclear deal is formally known, it is also reticent to rapidly escalate some of its retaliatory moves for fear of nudging the European Union in the direction of the United States. The United States and Israel can harm Iran far more than Iran can harm them. Thus Iran will retaliate by using cyberwarfare and other asymmetric means that are hard to track back to it, or by supporting...

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