Despite Evidence of Iran’s Threats on U.s. Land, Blinken and Schiff Argue That the New Nuclear Agreement Should Not Be Derailed as a Result.
According to the intelligence community’s 2022 Annual Threat Assessment, published Tuesday by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Iran will harm Americans directly and through proxy strikes, and Tehran remains determined to create networks inside the United States (ODNI).
Now that the United States is on the verge of reaching a diplomatic agreement with Iran over its nuclear programme, as well as a possible deal for the release of four American prisoners, it is unclear whether the Biden administration will be able to extract any further concessions or persuade Tehran to stop its other malign activities, including any on American soil.
The State Department presented two persistent threat assessments to Congress in January 2022, citing a “serious and credible threat” to former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former Trump administration Iran envoy Brian Hook’s lives. The State Department determined the necessity to provide round-the-clock, taxpayer-funded diplomatic security services to both men during 2021 and again in 2022, according to these non-public assessments.
Pompeo’s large security entourage has drawn attention at public appearances, particularly at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference. Pompeo is a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2024. (CPAC). The scale of the detail is comparable to that of a current cabinet member.
Pompeo faced such threats “from a foreign power or the agent of a foreign power,” according to the most recent danger assessment issued by Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Brian McKeon on July 16, 2021. McKeon also claimed that he had assessed that a specific threat to former envoy Hook warranted security on at least three occasions, the most recent being in November 2021.
Iran is the foreign player, according to two current and three former US officials, but the precise dangers were not described in the assessments submitted to Congress. The existence of the non-public threat assessment was originally exposed by the Free Beacon.
The FBI also foiled an Iranian intelligence network plot to kidnap Masih Alinejad, a New York-based journalist, and Tehran is threatening current US officials, as the intelligence community openly confirmed on Tuesday. The threat to present authorities, according to the ODNI assessment, was in revenge for a US drone strike in January 2020 that killed Iran’s most prominent military general, Commander Qasem Soleimani, and that Iran “had before sought to execute lethal operations in the United States.”
On Face the Nation this past Sunday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken dodged a question about whether a renewed diplomatic agreement with Iran over its nuclear programme would also address threats on American soil, such as those aimed at his predecessor, Mike Pompeo, who was secretary of state at the time of Soleimani’s assassination. Instead, Blinken focused on the broad threat presented by Iranian malign actors to US personnel, adding, “We will stand and act against those every single day.”
According to the secretary, Iran is only weeks away from obtaining enough fissile material to build a nuclear weapon, which is why the US is trying to revive the 2015 international agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which would lift sanctions in exchange for a temporary freeze on Iran’s nuclear development. President Trump pulled out of the JCPOA in 2018 by imposing sanctions on Iran, and in July 2019, Iran launched nuclear-related operations that went outside the agreement’s parameters. If Iran does not receive sanctions relief, the intelligence community believes it will continue enriching nuclear fuel to weapons-grade material.
We were quite clear when we first agreed to the deal that nothing in it stops us from acting against Iran if it engages in behaviours that harm us, our allies, and partners. “That will very certainly continue,” Blinken stated.
The dangers do not have to be addressed in any renewed nuclear-related deal with Iran, according to House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff.
“We can deal with and have to deal with these other harmful operations of Iran’s, their plots against U.S. personnel or Americans around the world separately, and we should deal with them decisively,” Schiff said on Face the Nation on Sunday. “All of this needs to be pursued, not necessarily in one agreement.”
However, outside of Iran’s nuclear programme, the Biden administration has been unambiguous about its commitment to one specific issue: the fate of four Americans detained in Iran. Last month, US Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley told Reuters that without their release, a nuclear deal is unlikely. In compensation for the release of imprisoned Westerners, Iran has demanded the unfreezing of billions of dollars in state assets held in bank accounts in US ally South Korea.