The US led invasion of Iraq in 2003 had a massive impact on neighbouring Iran. At a stroke, Tehran’s enemy of more than twenty years was removed and replaced by the encircling forces of the ‘Great Satan’. With some one hundred and forty thousand troops in Iraq, seventeen thousand in Afghanistan, a growing military presence in Central Asia and the dominating naval force in the Gulf, the United States at once became Tehran’s main regional military adversary.
There is a deep scepticism in Washington about Iran’s nuclear ambitions and a reluctance to accept they can be limited through diplomacy. But what would be the target for an American attack, how would Tehran respond and could it prove costly for the United States throughout the region?