Since the June 2013 election of President Hassan Rouhani, the Iranian administration has presented a “moderate” face to the West, pursuing a nuclear agreement in exchange for sanctions relief and appearing to strive towards diplomatic rapprochement.
However, the regime’s actions – even under Rouhani – present an entirely different picture (we have already reported somewhat about this in July), suggesting that Iran has not really changed in any significant regard, be it in terms of human rights (which have only worsened under the “moderate” president, despite the issue being eclipsed in the media by coverage of the nuclear deal) or its belligerent military aspirations.
A slew of recent professional reports appear to confirm and reaffirm that Iran, despite its “moderate” demeanor, and despite the tendency to write off any hostile, corrupt, repressive, sinister, or generally untoward Iranian behavior as stemming from hardliners alone, is still a human rights concern, a military threat and a threat to civil life as we know it.
In one noteworthy instance, the UK’s Human Rights 2015 report concluded that “Iran’s human rights record continued to cause great concern” in the past year, noting specifically that Rouhani had reneged de facto on his campaign promises to “improve the rights and freedoms of the citizens of Iran” and enact reforms on discrimination against women and minorities.
In the military sphere, the Index of US Military Strength assessed Iran as a significant threat on several counts: its ballistic missile development, its sponsorship of terror, and its participation in and exacerbation of various regional conflicts, directly or via proxies. Thus, despite the nuclear deal, and perhaps because of it, Iran remains still a military threat – including to the West.
Iran was also described in several reports as a threat in terms of its offensive cyber capabilities, with the Pentagon proclaiming recently that the Islamic republic has been building up its ability to carry out cyber attacks – even with the nuclear deal in place.
To top it all, it would seem that the nuclear deal itself isn’t exactly rock solid: a recent analysis by Georgetown scholar Ariane Tabatabai suggested that as the agreement loses the backing of Supreme Leader Khamenei, who has in recent weeks been taking a more critical position on it, it faces danger of disintegration.