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How Iranian nuclear scientist's assassination will affect Tehran's strategy

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Indeed, the stage appears set for a highly volatile year, as both the United States and Iran prepare for important elections, Tehran faces key decisions on its nuclear program, and an Iranian-American convicted of spying sits on death row in Iran.

Vow to answer 'threats with threats'

When Iran’s supreme religious leader looked out on his nation’s strategic landscape in mid-November, he saw many gathering storm clouds.

Enemies were readying tougher sanctions – perhaps to embargo oil, Iran’s economic lifeblood. They were killing Iranian nuclear scientists. They had sent the computer virus Stuxnet to disrupt Iran’s uranium enrichment. Their agents were reportedly inside Iran, replacing street signs and bricks in buildings with new ones equipped with radiation detectors.

And the United Nations nuclear watchdog had just published details of alleged “systematic” nuclear weapons-related work by Iran through late 2003, and declared of “particular concern” more episodic work as recently as 2009 – prompting fresh global opprobrium.

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