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Iran's Crown Prince Strikes Back

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Over the past few weeks, the Trump administration has turned up the heat on Tehran. Way up. As part of a “maximum pressure” campaign aimed at curbing the malign international activities of Iran’s ruling regime, the White House has dramatically intensified sanctions, blacklisted the country’s clerical army, and put foreign buyers of Iranian crude on notice that they need to pull out of the Iranian market or face potentially catastrophic consequences.
But to what end? President Donald Trump has said repeatedly that he would be willing to negotiate a new framework agreement with Iran’s ayatollahs to replace the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and do so without preconditions. That may indeed happen, if Iran’s ayatollahs agree to come back to the diplomatic table. But the massive economic and political pressure now being placed on Iran by the United States could lead to another outcome as well: a collapse of the current Iranian regime. That raises a key question for policymakers: if the United States does indeed succeed in causing a fundamental transformation in Iran, then what should come next?

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