Monday, March 16, 2015

  • Monday, March 16, 2015
  • Elder of Ziyon
From TOI:
An annual report delivered recently to the US Senate by James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, removed Iran and Hezbollah from its list of terrorism threats, after years in which they featured in similar reports.

The unclassified version of the Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Communities, dated February 26, 2015 (PDF), noted Iran’s efforts to combat Sunni extremists, including those of the ultra-radical Islamic State group, who were perceived to constitute the preeminent terrorist threat to American interests worldwide.

In describing Iran’s regional role, the report noted the Islamic Republic’s “intentions to dampen sectarianism, build responsive partners, and deescalate tensions with Saudi Arabia,” but cautioned that “Iranian leaders—particularly within the security services—are pursuing policies with negative secondary consequences for regional stability and potentially for Iran.
Here is the evolution of how the NIE regarded Iran as a terror threat in recent years (this is separate from their nuclear program):

2012:
The Threat from Iran

The 2011 plot to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador to the United States shows that some Iranian officials-probably including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei-have changed their calculus and are now more willing to conduct an attack in the United States in response to real or perceived US actions that threaten the regime. We are also concerned about Iranian plotting against US or allied interests overseas.

Iran’s willingness to sponsor future attacks in the United States or against our interests abroad probably will be shaped by Tehran’s evaluation of the costs it bears for the plot against the Ambassador as well as Iranian leaders’ perceptions of US threats against the regime.
2013:
Iran and Lebanese Hizballah

The failed 2011 plot against the Saudi Ambassador in Washington shows that Iran may be more willing to seize opportunities to attack in the United States in response to perceived offenses against the regime. Iran is also an emerging and increasingly aggressive cyber actor. However, we have not changed our assessment that Iran prefers to avoid direct confrontation with the United States because regime preservation is its top priority.

Hizballah’s overseas terrorist activity has been focused on Israel—an example is the Bulgarian Government’s announcement that Hizballah was responsible for the July 2012 bus bombing at the Burgas airport that killed five Israeli citizens. We continue to assess that the group maintains a strong anti-US agenda but is reluctant to confront the United States directly outside the Middle East.
2014:
Iran and Hizballah

Outside of the Syrian theater, Iran and Lebanese Hizballah continue to directly threaten the interests of US allies. Hizballah has increased its global terrorist activity in recent years to a level that we have not seen since the 1990s.
2015:

(Nothing.)

This is an amazing evolution of thinking. Even as the NIE was noting that Iran and its proxy Hizballah was increasing their global terror activity over the years against US allies, it no longer sees it as a threat against the US itself (despite the 2011 attack on the Saudi ambassador), so it is no longer even worth mentioning.

Also amazing is that the near simultaneous Iranian attacks on three separate Israeli diplomatic missions in 2012 are not mentioned at all, even though the FBI at the time said "Quds Force, Hezbollah and others have shown they both have the capability and the willingness to extend beyond that [Middle East] region of the world and likely here into the homeland itself."

The NIE is not supposed to be politically motivated, but it is hard to escape two conclusions.

One is that as part of the Obama strategy to embrace Iran as a potential ally against Sunni extremism, the idea of Iranian backed terror is inconvenient to mention.

The other is that Iranian terror attacks against Israeli targets and other US allies are irrelevant in determining if Iran is a terror threat to the US itself, a truly shortsighted analysis.

The NIE remains on the fence as to Iran's nuclear designs even as it notes that it is working on building ICBMs that can carry nuclear warheads worldwide:

We continue to assess that Iran’s overarching strategic goals of enhancing its security, prestige, and regional influence have led it to pursue capabilities to meet its civilian goals and give it the ability to build missile-deliverable nuclear weapons, if it chooses to do so. We do not know whether Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons.

We also continue to assess that Iran does not face any insurmountable technical barriers to producing a nuclear weapon, making Iran’s political will the central issue. However, Iranian implementation of the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) has at least temporarily inhibited further progress in its uranium enrichment and plutonium production capabilities and effectively eliminated Iran’s stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium. The agreement has also enhanced the transparency of Iran’s nuclear activities, mainly through improved International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) access and earlier warning of any effort to make material for nuclear weapons using its safeguarded facilities.

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. Iran’s progress on space launch vehicles—along with its desire to deter the United States and its allies—provides Tehran with the means and motivation to develop longer-range missiles, including intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).
There is no strategic thinking here, and it is frightening that the US makes strategic decisions based on an analysis that appears to be more interested in furthering political interests than soberly assessing true threats.



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