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Iranian Rhetoric Isn’t Just Bluster

The Iranian Navy’s dispatch of ships into the Atlantic surprised both American journalists and diplomats. It should not have, for Iranian officials have long telegraphed their desire to expand Iran’s naval outreach. Back in 2011, Habibollah Sayyari, commander of the Iranian Navy, declared it to be Iran’s intention to establish a presence in the Atlantic Ocean near the territorial waters of the United States.

When it comes to the Obama administration’s current diplomacy with Tehran, it is important to focus more on Iranian actions than the promises of its diplomats. When it comes to the supreme leader, the Iranian military, and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, however, rhetoric is important because, all too often, they have shown their determination to put into action plans announced regarding future developments of the Iranian military and Iranian power projection. Official statements, for example, about talk of launching aircraft carriers might seem silly and unrealistic, but that depends on the meaning of aircraft carrier: Shortly thereafter, the U.S. navy began seeing Iranian boats launching Iran’s indigenous drones.

Likewise, Iranian authorities have pursued intercontinental ballistic missile capability through their satellite launching program. Given the fact that Iranian authorities at least try to fulfill their military rhetoric, the number of Iranian officials who have spoken about the need to achieve a nuclear-weapons capability if not nuclear weapons themselves should concern the White House. Alas, it seems that President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry’s desire for a deal has trumped the caution which normally accompanies such high-profile outreach.



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