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The old saying, "predictions of my demise are premature," certainly applies to the rulers of Iran. Since the revolution in 1979, suggestions have repeatedly been made that a new revolution is in the works. We are told that the young, educated, westernized part of the population seethes under the autocratic and medieval mullahs who hold power. On occasion, parts of the population have protested, but these potential uprisings never received much support from the United States or other Western nations and were quickly put down by the brutal regime. People in the West who have not had to fight for freedom in a totalitarian society often underestimate the difficulty of overthrowing a government that controls all the levers of power and uses a ruthless cadre of secret police to enforce discipline.

Besides the difficulty of changing the regime in Iran, another misconception is that this would necessarily alter Iran's effort to build a nuclear weapon. Much of the focus during the period of negotiations has been on President Ahmadinejad, but he has never been the person with the real power; moreover, both his predecessor and last opponent, also supported the nuclear program. The world actually owes Ahmadinejad a debt of gratitude because it is his threats, virulent anti-Semitism, support for terrorism, and bombast that helped draw attention to Iran's activities after years of blind neglect.

It is a mistake, however, to believe that it is only the radical Islamic leadership that seeks a nuclear capability. Other Iranians insist it is Iran's sovereign right to use its technological know-how to acquire the same weapons as other nations. By what right, they ask, is the United States, Israel, India or Pakistan entitled to have nuclear weapons while denying the same right to Iran?

Thus, regime change would not necessarily eliminate the nuclear threat from Iran. The issue then, for the international community, would be whether a non-Islamic regime with these weapons would be less of a threat to its neighbors and world stability. The fear that Iran would intimidate its neighbors or attack Israel might be reduced, but Arab countries would still feel the need to get their own bombs to ensure deterrence. Everyone would also have to worry that the Islamists might return to power and then they would have the weapons already in their arsenal.