Chilling Iranian videos are bluster, but with a message

It’s as crudely made as an outdated Playstation video game, and would be laughable if the stakes were not so high and the imagery not so horrifying.

Earlier this week, Iranian websites started posting a four-minute animated video depicting a hypothetical war launched by the United States and Israel against Iran.

It’s a war in which Iranian forces ultimately beat back waves of U.S. Stealth bombers, and ends with Iranian missiles raining down on Tel Aviv, triggering the complete destruction of Israel via nuclear holocaust. In fact, “Holocaust” is the name of the film.

These are, presumably, the same nuclear weapons Iran claims it has no intention of ever building.

Chilling as the video may be, it smacks of little more than saber-rattling on the part of the thuggish Iranian regime. It follows a similar film broadcast by Iranian state television earlier this month, “The Nightmare of Vultures,” showing a computer-generated animation of the country’s response to a potential strike.

Nevertheless, such bellicosity points up the difficulties the world faces in negotiating a nuclear deal with Iran.

This week, the long slog toward that final accord began with representatives of the six big powers — Britain, France, Russia, China, Germany and the United States — meeting in Vienna with their Iranian counterparts.

These are the talks that Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said will “not lead anywhere.” The same talks about which a senior American official said it was “probably as likely that we won’t get an agreement as it is that we will.”

Despite the ongoing objections of the Israeli government, which accuses Iran of bald duplicity, Western leaders chose the path of negotiations in order to step back from the brink of war. Iran’s seemingly unstoppable march toward becoming a nuclear power and, presumably, building nuclear weapons, put it on a collision course with its enemies.

Crippling economic sanctions appeared to break Iran’s resolve and bring it to the negotiating table. Yet ever since a six-month interim agreement was signed in November, Iran has done little but bluster, brag and taunt the West.

If there is no deal, then most likely sanctions will resume, as will Tehran’s quest for full nuclear capability. The world will edge that much closer to a fearsome military confrontation, one that will surely involve Israel.

We don’t trust Iran, but talking makes sense because there is still a chance the world can exact verification measures that work. We pray the talks succeed. For if war were ever to come to the region, it would surely be nothing like a video game.