As the Obama administration grapples with the conundrum of Iran, it must balance its proliferation concerns with its moral responsibilities. Iran's post-election tremors have hardly subsided; in fact, the regime is systematically eviscerating its democratic opposition. Amid their merciless efforts to consolidate power, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his allies see discussion of the nuclear program as a means to silence the criticism that their domestic behavior merits. In the coming months, Iran will no doubt seek to prolong negotiations by accepting and then rejecting agreed-upon compacts and offering countless counterproposals. The United States and its allies must decide how to approach an Iranian diplomatic stratagem born out of cynical desire to clamp down on peaceful dissent with relative impunity.
International scrutiny remains trained on Iran's nuclear program, but outside that glare, the structure and orientation of the Revolutionary Guards are changing dramatically. The regime in Tehran is establishing the infrastructure for repression. The leadership of the Guards and the paramilitary Basij force have been integrated and are much more focused on vanquishing imaginary plots by a (nonexistent) fifth column.