Congress: Iran threat grows with hard-liner Ahmadinejad
Iran has become a greater threat to the United States since the presidential election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is presiding over a secretive weapons program capableofproducing12nuclearweapons if the nation’s uranium enrichment continues, says a congressional report released on Aug. 23.
“Iran poses a threat to the United States and its allies due to its sponsorshipof terror, probablepursuitof weapons of mass destruction and support for the insurgency in Iraq,” said the 29-page bipartisan report from the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
The report combines previously published intelligence and committee assessments. It is designed to spotlight Iran’s radical Islamic regime,whichappearstobeona collision course with the West over its nuclear program.
Mr. Ahmadinejad has refused a demand from the United Nations to stopenrichinguranium.Thatstance raises the risk of economic sanctionsandapre-emptiveU.S.airstrike on Iran’s network of atomic centers.
The report says: “The profile of theIranianthreathasincreasedover the last year due to the election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whohasmadepublicthreatsagainst theUnitedStatesand Israel, thecontinuationofIraniannuclearweapons research, and the recent attacks by Hezbollah, an Iranian terrorist proxy, against Israel. [. . .] Iran thus bears significant responsibility for the recent violence in Israel and Lebanon.”
Committee Chairman Peter Hoekstra, Michigan Republican, added, “That Iran has announced it will continue its program of nuclear enrichment,inviolationofaU.N.resolution, demonstrates it will not be satisfied until it poses a threat to the entire world.”
The report suggests that Iran playedaroleinHezbollah’sattackon Israel last month, but said the evidence is not firm.
“TheextenttowhichIrandirected the July/August 2006 Hezbollah attacks against Israel is unknown, as are possible Iranian objectives for provoking hostilities with Israel at this point in time,” the report said. “Certainly, Iran could benefit if the international community’s attention was diverted away from Iran’s nuclear program.”
Iran has on hand 85 tons of processeduraniumthatcouldbeenriched and used in 12 nuclear weapons,andcouldstockpileenough plutonium for 30 weapons per year with spent fuel from a Russian-supplied reactor at Bushehr on the Persian Gulf.
Russia has promised to inventory and collect the spent fuel rods. But theHousereportsays,“Iran’srecord of non-cooperation with the [International Atomic Energy Agency] and its years of secret nuclear experiments raise questions as to whetherIrancanbetrustedtohonor an agreement on the disposition of spent fuel rods.”
The report, “Recognizing Iran as a Strategic Threat: An Intelligence Challenge for the United States,” repeats a complaint from a 2005 blueribbon commission that the U.S. intelligencecommunitydoesnotknow enoughaboutIran’snuclearprogram and those of other rogue nations.
“The United States lacks critical information needed for analysts to make many of their judgments with confidence about Iran and there are many significant information gaps,” the committee report said.