US intelligence reveals threats from Iran on US soil, but Blinken and Schiff say that shouldn’t derail new nuclear deal
US intelligence has determined that Iran will threaten Americans — both directly and via proxy attacks — and that Tehran remains committed to developing networks inside the US, according to the intelligence agencies’ annual 2022 threat assessment, released on Tuesday was published by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI).
Now that the US is on the verge of a diplomatic deal with Iran over its nuclear program, as well as a possible deal to release four American prisoners, it’s not clear whether the Biden administration can force further concessions or convince Tehran of its other malign activities cease, including all on US soil.
CBS News has received two persistent threat assessments, submitted to Congress by the State Department in January 2022, that found a “serious and credible threat” to the lives of former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former Trump administration Iran envoy Brian Hook. is called. These non-public assessments show that throughout 2021 and again in 2022, the State Department assessed the need to provide both men with 24-hour U.S. taxpayer-funded diplomatic security details.
According to another report, classified as sensitive but unclassified, obtained by CBS News, U.S. taxpayers pay more than $2 million a month to protect Pompeo and Hook. Projected costs include vehicle and travel expenses, as well as salaries and wages for the agents who work for the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security. The document was first reported by The Associated Press.
The hefty security entourage, which continues to travel with Pompeo, a potential Republican presidential nominee for 2024, has garnered attention with its public appearances, including at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). The level of detail rivals that typical of a current cabinet minister.
The most recent threat assessment, signed by Assistant Secretary of State for Management and Resources Brian McKeon, cites a July 16, 2021 finding that Pompeo faced such threats “from a foreign power or the agent of a foreign power.” McKeon also said he’s found a specific threat to former Envoy Hook required security on at least three occasions, most recently in November 2021.
Two current and three former US officials confirmed that Iran is the foreign actor, but details of the specific threats were not described in the assessments submitted to Congress. The Free Beacon first reported the existence of the non-public threat assessment.
The FBI also foiled a plot by the Iranian intelligence network to kidnap New York-based journalist Maseh Alinejad, and Tehran is threatening current US officials, publicly acknowledged by the intelligence community on Tuesday. The ODNI report says the threat against current officials was in retaliation for the US drone strike that killed Iran’s most powerful military general, Commander Qasem Soleimani, in January 2020, and that Iran “has previously attempted deadly operations in to carry out the United States. “
At Face the nation, Secretary of State Antony Blinken dodged a question about whether a renewed diplomatic deal with Iran over its nuclear program would also counter threats on US soil, including those targeting his predecessor Mike Pompeo, who was Secretary of State when the Soleimani assassination took place Location. Blinken instead addressed the broad threat posed to US personnel by malicious Iranian actors, saying, “We will stand against them and take action against them every day.”
The minister has previously said that Iran is weeks away from obtaining enough fissile material for a nuclear bomb, which is why the US is trying to revive the 2015 international agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which in return would lift sanctions on Iran in exchange for temporarily limiting its nuclear development. President Trump exited the JCPOA by sanctioning Iran in 2018, and in July 2019 Iran began nuclear-related activities that exceeded the limits of that agreement. Intelligence agencies believe that if Iran does not receive sanctions relief, it will continue to enrich nuclear fuel into weapons-grade material.
“When we originally considered the deal, we were very clear that nothing in the deal would prevent us from taking action against Iran if it is engaged in actions that threaten us, threaten our allies and partners. It will very well stay that way, ”said Blinken.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff agrees that the threats do not need to be addressed in any renewed nuclear deal with Iran.
“These other malicious activities by Iran, their conspiracies against US personnel or Americans around the world that we can and must deal with separately and we should deal with them aggressively,” Schiff said Face the nation,. “We need to pursue all of this, not necessarily in an agreement.”
However, the Biden administration has explicitly taken a stand on a specific issue outside the parameters of Iran’s nuclear program, and that is the fate of four Americans imprisoned in Iran. Last month, US special envoy to Iran Robert Malley told Reuters that a nuclear deal is unlikely without their release. Iran has insisted that billions of dollars in state assets held in bank accounts of US ally South Korea will be released in exchange for the release of jailed Westerners.