Some analysts compare Iran's ten-year effort to build its nuclear program with its dogged conduct in its bloody, eight-year war with Iraq in the 1980s. Back then, the founder of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, wanted to defy the West and show the strength of his nation by continuing the fight against Saddam Hussein. In 1988, under pressure from close aides and a society devastated by the war, Khomeini finally agreed to accept a ceasefire. He compared it with "drinking the cup of poison."
There is no sign yet that Ayatollah Khamenei might be willing to drink a similar cup of poison and settle for a compromise over the nuclear program. He has repeatedly dismissed the effects of the sanctions. But a few weeks ago he called them "savage," acknowledging indirectly, for the first time, that they were hurting the country.