Successive U.S. administrations since Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution have viewed Iran as a potential threat to U.S. allies and forces in the Persian Gulf and in the broader Middle East and have sought to limit its strategic capabilities. Iran's moderates appear to see regional threats to Iran as do Iran's hardliners and have made no apparent effort to curb Iran's efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Even if moderate leaders had sought to do so, they have been largely outmaneuvered on defense and other issues by hardliners who still control the armed forces, internal security services, the judiciary, and key decision-making bodies. In the past, Iran has generally lacked the indigenous skills to manufacture sophisticated conventional arms or independently develop weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and one of Iran's objectives over the past decade has been to obtain the technology and skills to become self-sufficient. Iran has come a long way toward that objective in certain areas, including ballistic missiles and chemical weapons, but in the aggregate, Iran remains reliant on foreign suppliers. This dependence has given the United States some opportunity to work with potential suppliers to contain Iran's WMD capabilities.
CRS Report for Congress, RL30551