Global pressure continues to mount on Iran.

You would think this would make it more difficult for the regime to justify the nuclear program to the Iranian people. The economy is straining and the sanctions are increasingly biting, but Russia, China and their puppet states have been complicit in helping keep the country afloat. The threat of military reprisal has kept the population at bay.

For there to be a peaceful outcome, the ayatollahs will have to make the calculation that a nuclear program is not worth the costs, or that they won’t be able to placate the people. I do not see that happening. They look at North Korea as a model — once it got nukes then the world had to take it seriously in a whole new way.

The ayatollahs currently look at the nuclear capability as an insurance card. A nuclear Iran will have no natural deterrent in the region. Russia is an ally of circumstance, and presents no threat. Iraq has been neutered and many of the highest officials are on the Iranian payroll. Afghanistan, and all the –stans, for that matter, are a non-issue. Turkey is surprisingly disengaged.