US national intelligence chief: Iran considers attacks on US
Iran was singled out as the only individual country that poses a terrorist threat to the United States and its allies in a briefing Tuesday to Congress by the head of US intelligence, dpa reported.
James Clapper, director of National Intelligence, made the reference in his first worldwide threat assessment since the killing of Osama bin Laden in May 2011. He indicated that Washington is in steady, close contact with Israel, which sees Iran's burgeoning nuclear programme as an "existential threat."
After outlining the threats posed by an increasingly decentralized al-Qaeda and isolated lone actors in the United States, Clapper cited the 2011 plot by Iran to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States as evidence of Tehran's intentions.
"(The plot) shows that some Iranian officials - probably including Supreme Leader (Ayatollah) Ali Khamenei - have changed their calculus and are now more willing to conduct an attack in the United States in response to real or perceived US actions that threaten the regime," Clapper said.
He said the US intelligence community was "concerned about Iranian plotting against US or allied interests overseas."
Despite the tightening of sanction screws against Iran over its nuclear programme, Clapper said he did not think that Iran's economic difficulties would jeopardize the regime, "absent a sudden and sustained fall in oil prices or a sudden domestic crisis that disrupts oil exports."
"Our hope is that the sanctions, particularly those which have been recently implemented, would have the effect of inducing a change in the Iranian policy towards their apparent pursuit of a nuclear capability," Clapper said.
He described the regular meetings with Israel's intelligence agency, Mossad, and Israeli leaders on the threat, but declined to answer questions from senators in public, saying he could only address those issues in closed session.
"Obviously, this is a very sensitive issue right now. We're doing a lot with the Israelis, working together with them," Clapper said. "And of course, for them, this is, as they've characterized it, an existential threat."