In light of the Biden administration’s continuous attempts with Iran to restore mutual compliance over the nuclear agreement, the US intelligence service warned that Tehran is still pursuing a policy of “aggressive actions” and that it has become a “major threat” to the security of the US and allied networks and data, calling for the need for maximum cyber protection.
The US intelligence report presented to the Congress revealed that Iran’s growing expertise and willingness to conduct aggressive cyber operations make it a major threat to the US and allied networks and data security.
“Iran’s opportunistic approach” to cyber-attacks makes critical infrastructure owners in the US susceptible to being targeted by Tehran, “especially when Tehran believes it must demonstrate that it can push back against the United States in other domains.”
Intelligence experts indicated that recent Israeli and US targets attacks show that Iran is more willing than before to target countries with stronger capabilities, as Tehran was responsible for multiple cyber-attacks between April and July 2020 against Israeli water facilities.
The report warned that Tehran would try to leverage its expanding nuclear program, proxy and partner forces, diplomacy, and military sales and acquisitions to advance its goals.
The Iranian regime sees itself as “locked in an existential struggle” with the US and its regional allies while it pursues its longstanding ambitions for regional leadership.
The report indicated that “the election of President Ebrahim Raisi in 2021 has invigorated Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to try to make progress toward his long-term vision of molding Iran into a pan-Islamic power,” adding that: “Iran’s hardline officials deeply distrust Washington and do not believe the United States can deliver or sustain any benefits a renewed JCPOA might offer.”
The report issued Tuesday indicated that Iran’s hybrid approach to warfare using both conventional and unconventional capabilities would threaten US interests in the region.
The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) and its proxies will remain central to Iran’s military power, and Tehran will seek to improve and acquire new conventional weaponry despite its economic challenges.
Iran’s ballistic missile programs, which include the largest inventory of ballistic missiles in the region, continue to threaten countries across the Middle East.
The experts assessed that Iran is not currently undertaking the key nuclear weapons-development activities that they judge would be necessary to produce a nuclear device.
The report also warned that Iran would threaten US persons directly and via proxy attacks, particularly in the Middle East. Iran also remains committed to developing networks inside the US, an objective it has pursued for more than a decade.
Iranian-supported proxies will launch attacks against US forces and persons in Iraq and Syria, and perhaps on other countries and regions.
Iran has threatened to retaliate against former and current US officials for the killing of IRGC-QF Commander Qasem Soleimani in January 2020 and has previously attempted to conduct lethal operations in the US.
Meanwhile, a Justice Department official told the Washington Examiner newspaper that the al-Quds Force was plotting to assassinate former national security adviser John Bolton and that this was not the first time that the IRGC attempted to carry out a high-profile assassination on US soil.
In 2011, security officials disrupted al-Quds Force’s plot to assassinate the then-Saudi ambassador Adel al-Jubeir as he dined at Cafe Milano in the Georgetown district of Washington.