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The Iranian Security Threat in the Western Hemisphere: Learning from Past Experience

Responding to the foiled Iranian bid to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper Jr. noted “that some Iranian officials – probably including Supreme Leader 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 U.S. actions that threaten the regime.”

Iran’s aggressive posture toward the United States, which suggests a heightened intent to target the homeland, is made all the more acute given Iran’s massive diplomatic presence in the Western Hemisphere. If history is any indicator, Iran’s disproportionate presence in the Western hemisphere is meant, at least in part, to give Tehran the ability to strike fast and hard should it decide to do so. Here is an article I wrote on this issue for the SAIS Review of International Affairs.

The Iranian Security Threat in the Western Hemisphere – SAIS Review

World attention on Iran centers on the threats to international security posed by the country’s nuclear program. As Iran presses on in its efforts to become a nuclear power, the regime in Tehran also employs an aggressive foreign policy that relies heavily on the deployment of clandestine assets abroad to collect intelligence and support foreign operations, all of which are aimed at furthering Iranian foreign policy interests. From a U.S. perspective, Iran’s massive diplomatic presence in the Western Hemisphere presents a particularly acute problem. In response to Iran’s abuse of the diplomatic system, the international community should collectively press our friends and allies in Latin America to severely restrict the size of Iran’s diplomatic missions to the minimum needed to conduct official business.

Read the full article.

Dr. Matthew Levitt blogs on counterterrorism, countering violent extremism and combating the financing of transnational threats. Read More