Iran-US relations – strained at the best of times since the 1979 Iranian revolution – have never been worse than during the past six years, due to the much more intense interaction between the two states since the revelations about Iran's nuclear ambitions and the United States' invasion of Iraq. The United States sees Iran as a potential strategic rival, while Tehran views the American presence in the Middle East as a potential existential threat. This has led to zero-sum thinking and has raised the stakes correspondingly. In the process there has been an inflation of the Iranian threat, which is poorly understood and often exaggerated. Depicting Iran as a military threat obscures the real political threat the country poses to its region; Iran's regional behaviour has been neglected and overshadowed by the contentious nuclear issue. However, it is precisely Iran's behaviour and goals which feed concerns about its nuclear ambitions.
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