In ATCH terms Iran is in an Expansive State
Iran was the first Middle Eastern nation to rebel against Western and specifically America influence, to then replace it with a Fundamentalist Islamic regime post the Iranian Revolution.
Their revolutionary zeal was fuelled by their Shiite belief system, which is implacably opposed to the Sunni majority and seeks control of the Middle East, which is going through a regional Civil War.Thus Iranian aspirations have been expressed through war and conflict in the region.
During this time, the 'Great Satin', as they call America, remains Iran’s implacable enemy, as does Israel, whose destruction it is dedicated to. Thus Iran’s involvement in the region is a constant source of conflict and hostility. The proxy war in Yemen with Saudi Arabia, being a case in point. In BTCH terms, Iran is in 'risk focussed expansive and aggressive state'.
However, Iran like Isreal, is a relatively small nation compared to its Sunni neighbours in the region. Notably, Israel has survived and prospered since it became a nuclear state ensuring its survival, and similarly Iran has sought a nuclear status with a relentless determination. This said, we cannot assume they would not use this capability in a first strike.
Iran Edges towards the Nuclear Precipice.
The Obama led 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, was, to put it politely, a BAD DEAL! America paid Iran with at least one large transport plane full of dollar bills and Iran kept its ability to move closer to a nuclear breakout. Then Iran used that money to finance its proxies to act against America and its allies.
Thus it was not a surprise that Trump broke the deal and opted for tough sanctions to force Iran into a more balanced deal. The Iranian response has been to escalate tensions, to push back and accelerate nuclear weapons development. In response to the unilateral withdrawal from the deal by America, Iran sought to put pressure on the other signatories to counter the hard-hitting escalation of US sanctions that were hurting the Iranian economy.
This nuclear brinkmanship, puts the attacks on tankers into context, as Iran sought to pressurise America by demonstrating that it could choke off the Straits of Hormuz, which is one of the worlds key maritime highways. This was a direct challenge to PAX America with many broad-reaching global security implications if allowed to continue. Thus in American eyes, Iran’s actions were so severe (with a sequence of attacks on two Saudi, one Norwegian and one UAE tankers ) that Trump made the tweet:
"If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!"
This was no idle boast and America's conventional military power, if focussed on Iran, would destroy its industrial-military complex in just 48 hours.However, set against a backdrop of Iran breaking the nuclear threshold at any moment, one has to ask why America did not use this as a pretext to attack Iran, as a demonstration of its overwhelming conventional power, that might deter other larger aggressors such as China.
The American Strategy for Nuclear Containment of a nuclear Iran.
The answer is that American military resources are spread thinly across the globe. To counter this overstretched condition, America has built an alliance with Israel and Saudia Arabia to contain Iran, as it focuses on containing China and Russia with its limited maritime resources.
The three-fold threats that Iran poses are:
1. Agitation and regional proxy wars through its agents like Hezbollah and those in Yemen
2. The constriction of the Straits of Hormuz
3. The development of medium-range nuclear weapons.
The first threat of local proxy wars are a matter for America's regional allies,
The second threat would require US Navel intervention as it challenges not only Pax America but also all the other Asian powers that rely on the oil that flows through this vital choke point.
The third threat of Iranian nuclear weapons would require attacks on Iran's nuclear weapons facilities. This could be performed by Isreal alone, who currently now operates the F35 state of the art stealth fighter that is well able to move freely in Iran’s air space. The only area where the US would have to support Israel is through the use of heavy deep penetration bombs to destroy nuclear facilities that could only be dropped from a US B2.
Thus America's strategy towards Iran is containment, through economically constricting sanctions, regional allies and precise direct military action where necessary to prevent Iran’s nuclear breakout.
That said, US sanctions are so tough that they may have the opposite intended effect, much as those on Japan did in 1941, by forcing Iran to throw the dice to cross the nuclear threshold where it believes like North Korea, it will be safe from American influence.
So critical these are times ahead that need close monitoring.