Being to Iran - going through official channels, visa, border control etc. - is very different, as I see it, and I understand Americans need to be escorted. There isn't a war on in Iran. Playing around the Iran/Iraq border isn't a simple tourism trip, and is at best pretty stupid.
I mean, I'm Irish, and for a long time there was low level conflict going on in the north of the island. But you could visit the Republic in particular any time you liked, and as long as you weren't very close to the border, you'd never even notice. But hang around the wrong areas of Derry or Belfast, and you'd know all about it pretty sharpish.