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Copyright © 2019 The American Israel Public Affairs Committee

News: U.S. Intelligence Community Warns of Iran's Dangerous Regional Behavior

On May 11, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats released the U.S. intelligence community’s Worldwide Threat Assessment. The Assessment paints a troubling picture of the extensive threat Iran poses to the United States, U.S. allies and global security as a whole. Below are some of the report’s excerpts:

Overall Iran threat assessment:

“The Islamic Republic of Iran remains an enduring threat to U.S. national interests because of Iranian support to anti-U.S. terrorist groups and militants, the Assad regime, Houthi rebels in Yemen, and because of Iran’s development of advanced military capabilities.

“Iran is immersed in ongoing conflicts in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. Iranian officials believe that engaging adversaries away from Iran’s borders will help prevent instability from spilling into Iran and reduce ISIS’s threat to Iran and its regional partners. Iran’s involvement in these conflicts, including sending hundreds of its own forces plus arming, financing, and training thousands of Iraqi, Afghan, and Pakistani Shia fighters to support the Assad regime, has aggravated sectarianism and increased tensions with other regional states…Iran will also utilize its relationship with Moscow to try to expand Iranian influence and counter U.S. pressure.

“Hardliners, who believe that the West is attempting to infiltrate Iran to undermine the regime, have driven the increase of arrests of citizens since 2014 who are dual nationals. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) will likely continue to scrutinize, arrest, and detain individuals with ties to the West, particularly dual U.S.-Iranian and UK-Iranian citizens. This practice will weaken prospects of attracting foreign investment into Iran's economy.

“Iran continues to develop a range of new military capabilities to monitor and target U.S. and allied military assets in the region, including armed UAVs, ballistic missiles, advanced naval mines, unmanned explosive boats, submarines and advanced torpedoes, and anti-ship and land-attack cruise missiles. Iran has the largest ballistic missile force in the Middle East and can strike targets up to 2,000 kilometers from Iran’s borders. Russia’s delivery of the SA-20c surface-to-air missile system in 2016 provides Iran with its most advanced long-range air defense system.

“IRGC Navy forces operating aggressively in the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz pose a risk to the U.S. Navy. Most IRGC interactions with U.S. ships are professional, although U.S. Navy operators consider approximately 10 percent to be unsafe, abnormal, or unprofessional.”

On Iranian support for terrorism:

“Iran continues to be the foremost state sponsor of terrorism and, with its primary terrorism partner, Lebanese Hezbollah, will pose a continuing threat to U.S. interests and partners worldwide. The Syrian, Iraqi, and Yemeni conflicts will continue to aggravate the rising Sunni-Shia sectarian conflict, threatening regional stability.”

On Iran and the 2015 nuclear agreement (JCPOA):

“Iran is pursuing capabilities to meet its nuclear energy and technology goals and to give it the capability to build missile-deliverable nuclear weapons, if it chooses to do so. Its pursuit of these goals will influence its level of adherence to the JCPOA.”

“We judge that Tehran would choose ballistic missiles as its preferred method of delivering nuclear weapons, if it builds them. Iran’s ballistic missiles are inherently capable of delivering WMD, and Tehran already has the largest inventory of ballistic missiles in the Middle East. Tehran’s desire to deter the United States might drive it to field an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).”

On North Korea-Iran cooperation:

“North Korea’s export of ballistic missiles and associated materials to several countries, including Iran and Syria, and its assistance to Syria’s construction of a nuclear reactor, destroyed in 2007, illustrate its willingness to proliferate dangerous technologies.”

On the Iranian cyber threat:

“Tehran continues to leverage cyber espionage, propaganda, and attacks to support its security priorities, influence events and foreign perceptions, and counter threats—including against U.S. allies in the region. Iran has also used its cyber capabilities directly against the United States. For example, in 2013, an Iranian hacker conducted an intrusion into the industrial control system of a U.S. dam, and in 2014, Iranian actors conducted a data deletion attack against the network of a U.S.-based casino.”

Tags: Near East Report Near-East-Report