An annual intelligence report delivered to the Senate by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper detailing worldwide terrorist threats omitted Iran and Hezbollah, the Times of Israel first reported.
A senior U.S. lawmaker called the move “political” and accused the Obama administration of dropping the Shiite country and its Lebanese terrorist proxy from the list in the hope of one day normalizing relations with Iran “in the interest of forging his foreign policy legacy.”
The Times of Israel reported:
The unclassified version of the Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Communities, dated February 26, 2015 (PDF), noted Iran’s efforts to combat Sunni extremists, including those of the ultra-radical Islamic State group, who were perceived to constitute the preeminent terrorist threat to American interests worldwide.
In describing Iran’s regional role, the report noted the Islamic Republic’s “intentions to dampen sectarianism, build responsive partners, and deescalate tensions with Saudi Arabia,” but cautioned that “Iranian leaders—particularly within the security services—are pursuing policies with negative secondary consequences for regional stability and potentially for Iran.
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, said President Barack Obama is treating Iran "as if it were not on the state sponsors of terrorism list.”
She compared the move to the president's outreach to Cuba.
“The president is making political moves in order to advance his agenda, but not based on any real assessment of actual threats, and has been using Cuba as the test case for normalizing relations with Iran,” Ros-Lehtinen said in a statement.
“The president cannot continue to play games with the national security of our country in the interest of forging his foreign policy legacy,” she said. “The sad reality is that by continuing to pursue these avenues of engagement and concessions, he is putting the U.S. and the world at greater risk.”
While Iran and Hezbollah were dropped from the DNI’s report, they were included as threats in the assessment of a separate agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Times of Israel reported, quoting the Israeli think tank the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center.
Secretary of State John Kerry earlier this week began another round of talks with Iran to try to forge a landmark agreement over its controversial nuclear program.
The Times of Israel noted that the National Intelligence threat assessment said that while it wasn’t clear if Iran would one day try to build a nuclear weapon, it would face no “insurmountable technical barriers to producing a nuclear weapon” if it chose that path.