The breakdown or modification of the Islamic Republic, though not imminent, is increasingly conceivable. However, in the event that the regime were tofall, Iran is bereft of many of the social and economic requisites for a stable democracy to emerge. About 80% of the Iranian economy is in the hands of the state, the private sector is dependent and feeble, and the 70% of the Iranians that are under the age of 30 are neither propertied nor middle class. This has implications for US policy, made all the more urgent by the timeline imposed by the looming nuclear issue. Rather than experiment with ineffectual and counter-productive attempts at democracy promotion, this study suggests that a policy of long-term international diplomatic and economic engagement is the best available tool for transforming Iranian society and politics in such a way that a transition to a sustained and stable democracy and, by implication, a resolution of Iran’s nuclear issue, becomes more likely.