New US Intelligence Report Highlights Global Security Threats From Iran and Hezbollah
Iran and its Lebanese Shi’a proxy Hezbollah represent an undiluted global threat emboldened by recent advances in Iraq and Syria and undeterred by the 2015 nuclear deal, a new US intelligence reported issued this week highlighted.
“Tehran’s public statements suggest that it wants to preserve the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the technical name for the 2015 nuclear deal with the US and five other countries) because it views the JCPOA as a means to remove sanctions while preserving some nuclear capabilities,” Daniel R. Coats, the US director of national intelligence, wrote in his report to Congress on global threats to American national security for 2018.
“Iran’s implementation of the JCPOA has extended the amount of time Iran would need to produce enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon from a few months to about one year, provided Iran continues to adhere to the deal’s major provisions,” Coats observed.
“Iran’s ballistic missile programs give it the potential to hold targets at risk across the region, and Tehran already has the largest inventory of ballistic missiles in the Middle East,” the report said. Iran’s nascent space program could assist the country’s military in developing an ICBM missile with a much larger range, the report warned, because of the similarities in the technology used.
On Iran’s involvement in cyberwarfare, the report assessed that Tehran “will continue working to penetrate US and Allied networks for espionage and to position itself for potential future cyber attacks, although its intelligence services primarily focus on Middle Eastern adversaries — especially Saudi Arabia and Israel.”
The report underlined that Iran “and its strategic partner Lebanese Hezbollah … pose a persistent threat to the United States and its partners worldwide.” Hezbollah had “demonstrated its intent to foment regional instability by deploying thousands of fighters to Syria and by providing weapons, tactics, and direction to militant and terrorist groups.”
On the Sunni Islamist front, the report forecast that “ISIS almost certainly will continue to give priority to transnational terrorist attacks.”
The report stated that the terror organization’s “leadership probably assesses that, if ISIS-linked attacks continue to dominate public discourse, the group’s narrative will be buoyed, it will be difficult for the counter-ISIS coalition to portray the group as defeated, and the coalition’s will to fight will ultimately weaken.”
More broadly, the report asserted that “forces for geopolitical order and stability will continue to fray, as will the rules-based international order.”
“China and Russia will seek spheres of influence and to check US appeal and influence in their regions,” the report concluded. “Meanwhile, US allies’ and partners’ uncertainty about the willingness and capability of the United States to maintain its international commitments may drive them to consider reorienting their policies, particularly regarding trade, away from Washington.”