James Clapper, the top intelligence official in the United States, suggested that the Iranian government is pursuing a nuclear program in defiance of the United States because their leaders think “we’re on the decline.”
“As the Supreme Leader [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei] looks westward, looks at us, he can argue that we’re on the decline, our influence is declining — particularly in that area of the world — and so his view may not be fact-based, particularly when it comes to internal conditions in his country,” Clapper, the National Intelligence Director, said during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing to explain why Khamenei is pursuing a nuclear program in the face of economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. and United Nations.
Khamenei disavowed any desire for nuclear weapons, but didn’t exactly inspire confidence. “We believe nuclear arms must be eliminated and we don’t want to build nuclear arms,” he said last month. “But if we did not believe this and decided to have nuclear arms, no power could stand in our way.”