By all accounts Ahmadinejad is not secure. He is subject to the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. His foe, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, retains some power. Tehran is not a Saddamist dictatorship or a Taliban autocracy. It is a shambolic oligarchy with bureaucrats and technocrats jostling for power with clerics. Despite a quarter century of effort, the latter have not created a truly fundamentalist islamic state. Iran is a classic candidate for the politics of subtle engagement.
Economic sanctions killed over half a million children in Iraq between 1991 and 1998. They would not likely have the effect in Iran that we want. John Pilger's recent collection of investigative journalism, Tell Me No Lies, contains much more information on this topic.