The fundamentalist religion thingie makes the difference for me.
I think the whole Communism World Revolution Red Scare thingie felt as frightening to Americans in Khrushchev's time as the Islamic Fundamentalist Jihad thingie feels now, is all I'm saying - from Evil Empire to Axis of Evil.
The Soviets were not just clamping down ruthlessly on any popular uprising in its own Eastern Bloc, but also aggressively expanding their political and military influence throughout the decolonising world, up to America's doorstep, without a care about the anarchy wrecked - there were still more ruthless civil wars raging back then, than now in our era of terrorism...
So I just think that your assessment that the USSR was at least "civilised" was not shared by your forebears in that time, its more like a benefit-of-hindsight thing. So I'm not sure about the value of that distinction - who knows how Khamenei will be looked back upon 40 years from now? As a bad guy, no doubt - but I'm thinking he's more in the calculating-dictator category than in the zealot lunatic one, like Osama is.
Ahmadijenad is a different story, but then, the President hasnt actually got that much power in Iran - as Khatami found out to his exasperation.
So, you don't have concerns about Alphabetminidab holding nukes? If you think he's an Israel hater without them, don't you foresee a limited nuke exchange over there?
Do I think Iran would nuke Israel? To be honest, no, not under the current leadership, not unless it would be struck first ... Israel would probably be its preferred target of retaliation if any Western country does attack it, considering it'd provide the perfect excuse to turn a threat to its own power into something about Israel, so the Arab world can be riled up/in... but not out of the blue, no, no first strike I dont think.
But forsure - it takes some swallowing hard to trust
on such an assessment ... If one's wrong...