Are you expecting a new Iran? The most optimistic scenario by supporters of the nuclear deal with Iran is that the pact will bring about better relations between Tehran and Washington.
This presumptive script also suggests that Iranian pragmatists, emboldened by their success at the impending lifting of economic sanctions against Iran, will move to transform the regime's overall foreign policy. It also assumes that young supporters of President Hassan Rouhani will somehow "force" the regime to institute reforms that will lead to improved human rights as well as liberalization of the country's socially restrictive domestic policies.
In their view, apparently, as Tehran becomes more integrated, developing normal diplomatic ties with Western nation-states, its aggressively expansionist regional policy will become more tame and "manageable."
Unfortunately, considering the dark nature of the regime and its behavior during its 36 years of Islamist rule in Iran, this hope lacks any credibility. Given Iran's recent history, its unremittingly hostile statements and its continuing secretive, self-serving and antagonistic behavior, there seems ample precedent for the high-flown hopes of Western diplomats to be dashed.
After the election of Mohammad Khatami as President of Iran in 1997, many of America's most respected Iran analysts strenuously argued that the liberal evolution of Iran's revolution was already underway -- wishful thinking that was also echoed by the United Kingdom's Iran analysts and diplomats.
Regrettably, the opposite proved true. Scores of political dissidents were assassinated or disappeared, murdered by hard-line Iranian intelligence operatives of the Ministry of Information and Security (MOIS). When liberal supporters of Khatami seized the initiative in order to accelerate the reform process, the leadership of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) published a letter threatening the dissolution of the Khatami Presidency (1997-2005). Khatami, a trusted ally and childhood friend of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, instantly stopped all attempts at reform, and watched as the MOIS and IRGC placed several of his advisors under arrest.
After the Khatami Era, the Iranian people elected, in August, 2005, the most reactionary president in the history of the regime: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Currently, many American diplomats, Congressional lawmakers, and acquisitive international businessmen are optimistically unpacking predictions about the current Presidency of Hassan Rouhani that are similar to their predictions about Khatami. If anyone, however, is expecting any liberalization from Rouhani, please note right now that he is an even more trusted regime insider than Khatami. Rouhani has been intimately involved in all of the Islamic Republic's military, strategic and political decisions for the last 35 years.
The main reason there will not be a less aggressive foreign policy is that Iran's Presidency and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which negotiated the nuclear deal, have no power over the Islamic Republic's military, police, and intelligence agencies.
The IRGC, MOIS, and the Office of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei control all decisions in these arenas.
Rouhani also cannot liberalize domestic regulations unless reforms are blessed by the theocratic institutions -- which have been quick to suppress any move to soften Iran's repressive domestic social and political laws.
These theocratic institutions -- such as the Guardian Council, the Assembly of Experts, and the Expediency Council -- are the ideological watchdogs of the regime, and have more power than the Executive and Legislative branches of the Iranian government.
Moreover, the complex and specialized system of clerically-run courts are insulated from popular pressure.
Spot the difference...
The pipedreams of many so-called Iran experts have had their optimistic scenarios go up in smoke before. Robin Wright, writing in June 2009, the heyday of the now-crushed "Green Movement" protests, gushed, "What they are doing, however, is forcing Iran's Islamic regime to face the same ideals that have swept across five continents over the last quarter of a century -- the supremacy of popular will, justice, accountability and the transparency of power."
Unfortunately, there has been no diminution of influence or resolve among Iran's hard-liners, who control all of these institutions.
On the contrary, the military and theocratic cliques who dominate the regime will take full advantage of any opportunities created by the nuclear deal quickly and brutally to crush any attempt by Iranian reformers to expand political freedom or social reforms.
Dr. Lawrence A. Franklin was the Iran Desk Officer for Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld. He also served on active duty with the U.S. Army and as a Colonel in the Air Force Reserve, where he was a Military Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Israel.
 Karim Sadjadpour, "The Future of Iran's Islamic Republic: Evolution or Revolution?," Bologna Center Journal of International Affairs.
 Iranian Students News Agency, 15 July 2013. Jack Straw when he was the UK's Foreign Minister under the Labor Government of Tony Blair believed that Khatami's Presidency would usher in a new era of cooperation between Iran and the West. Now as an executive member of the Iran-Britain Parliamentary Friendship Society, straw 'waxes poetic' about the Rouhani Presidency in a similar manner.
 Into the Shadows: Political Vigilantes in Khatami's Iran, by Michael Rubin. The Dissident Murders, p. 90. MOIS 'rogue operatives' and Fida'iyan Islam murdered several liberal intellectuals in late 1998.
 Council of Guardians is staffed by arch-reactionary Shia clerics and laymen who adjudicate on the Islamic and revolutionary legitimacy of all legislation passed by the Iranian Majles. The Council also passes judgment of the acceptability of every candidate for public office.
 The Assembly of Experts is a body of 86 high Shia clerics who serve 8 year terms and who elect and/or depose the Supreme Leader.
 The Council for the Discernment of Expediency is a body of policy experts that seeks a compromise solution when key institutions of the regime cannot resolve their differences.