Washington, June 21 (ANI): Iran is becoming a military dictatorship, with religious leaders being sidelined, claimed US Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
Suggesting that Tehran may bend because of the pressure of the UN sanctions, Gates said:"What we've seen is a change in the nature of the regime in Tehran over the past 18 months or so."
Fox News Sunday and the Washington Times quoted Gates as further saying: "You have a much narrower-based government in Tehran now. Many of the religious figures are being set aside."
He claimed that Iran's supreme leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, "is leaning on a smaller and smaller group of advisers."
"There's no doubt that Iran's military and security forces are playing an active role in running the regime," added a U.S. official familiar with assessments on Iran.
"Religious leaders like Khamenei continue to make key decisions and rely on the vast security apparatus to carry them out," he said.
Since Iran's 2005 presidential election, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has expanded its control over the national economy.
Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a former IRGC officer, has appointed many retired IRGC officers to posts in Iran's government bureaucracy.
The IRGC has also begun to control more oil contracts and asserted itself in Iran's efforts to obtain nuclear technology.
"I think you have a reasonable chance of getting the Iranian regime finally to come to their senses and realize their security is probably more endangered by going forward than by stopping it," Gates said of Tehran's nuclear program.(ANI)