The last US ambassador to IRan, William H. Sullivan, forecast a long spell before diplomatic ties resume between the two nations. The possible result: increased Soviet influence in the unstable Middle EAstern country.
"Clearly, the Soviet's intention is to drive as sharp a wedge as they can between the United States and Iran and at the same time try to enfeeble the Iranian nation," he said in a telephone interview.
"The irony is that despite the outrage that the US feels toward Iran, it is in our national interest to preserve the territorial integrity of the nation," he added. Iran stands as a barrier between the Soviet Union and the Persian Gulf oil region.
"I would not expect the Soviets to militarily attack Iran like they have Afghanistan, but I am sure they are already busy agitating tribal factions against Tehran," said Mr. Sullivan, who now runs the American Assembly "think tank" at Columbia University.
Sullivan believes few, if any, Iranian- Soviet links developed during the hostage- taking: "The Iranians find the Soviet Union a pretty big Satan, too." One Soviet toehold on Iran is the Communist Party, which is under possible control from Moscow but appears to be fully supportive of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
An almost complete end to industrial growth begun under the Shah has produced a more primitive economy, a disrupted agriculture, and a nation hurt by hostage-related foreign trade embargos. But Iranian oil wealth is enough to allow the country to buy its way back into relative prosperity, he maintained.
Any US technical or corporate help will, for a long time, be rejected because of the almost paranoid suspicion Iranians hold toward Americans, he suggested.