Is the US Preparing for War with Iran?
US Brands Iran a “Global Threat”
Ahead of US President Trump’s unveiling of his new National Security Strategy, top US officials have been pointing the finger at Iran as the source of regional instability in the Middle East. At Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling on December 14, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley presented evidence of Iran’s illegal arms program. Two days later, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis gave an impromptu news conference again blaming Iran for undermining peace efforts in the Middle East. Mattis was quick to stress that the US was not considering a military response – at least not yet and not officially.
Mattis: Iran Working to Destabilize Middle East
“Everywhere you find turmoil [in the Middle East], you find Iran’s hand in it,” Defense Secretary James N. Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon, December 16.
During an impromptu news conference, Mattis addressed questions about Iran and U.S. efforts to expose Iran’s malicious behavior.
He praised U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley’s Dec. 14 presentation at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling here that highlighted Iran’s illegal arms program. Haley stood in front of an Iranian missile that Iran’s proxy – the Houthis – fired at Riyadh International Airport, a civilian target in Saudi Arabia. The missile did not hit the airport, but if it had, it potentially could have killed hundreds of innocent civilians.
Haley’s briefing included physical evidence that Iran is providing ballistic missiles to the Houthis, Mattis said. “What we are doing in that region,” he added, “is standing by allies and partners, and we’re on one hand exposing, on the other hand helping them build their own capability to reject Iranian influence.”
Iran Supporting Houthis, Assad, Hezbollah
In addition to its support on the Arabian Peninsula to the Houthis – a Shia group seeking to take control of Yemen — the secretary cited some of Iran’s activities elsewhere in the region.
“We find Iran actively engaged in keeping [Syrian President Bashar] Assad in power, despite the murder of his own people on the industrial scale, including the use of chemical weapons,” Mattis said. “We see what [Iran has] done with Lebanese Hezbollah in Lebanon and the threat to peace and the support they’ve given to Assad and the threat to Israel, for example.”
There is no military role for the United States in exposing Iran’s activities, Mattis said. “The reason Ambassador Haley was there, and not one of our generals, is this is a diplomatically led effort to expose to the world what Iran is up to,” he said.
Haley: Iran Must Stop Destabilizing Behavior
“We are not just focused on [Iran’s] nuclear program,” the ambassador said during a press conference at a Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling hangar where the illegal Iranian equipment is on display.
The display is hard evidence that Iran is seeking to destabilize the Middle East. Haley stressed that Iran is engaging in many other illegal behaviors that are causing suffering from the Arabian Peninsula, to Central Asia, to the Levant.
The United States is going beyond Iran’s nuclear weapons program, which the theocracy agreed to halt only after overwhelming international pressure. “We are not just focused on the nuclear program,” Haley said. “We’re also taking a hard look at Iran’s ballistic missile program, its arms exports, its support for terrorists, proxy fighters and dictators.”
And Iran’s behavior is growing worse, she said. “The nuclear deal has done nothing to moderate the regime’s conduct in other areas,” the ambassador said.
The instance of missile and weapons systems being sent from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard to militias and terror groups is increasing. “It’s hard to find a terrorist group in the Middle East that does not have Iran’s fingerprints all over it,” she said.
Iran is “fanning the flames” of conflict, Haley said.
United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231 deals specifically with Iranian arms transfers and its ballistic missile program. Iran has repeatedly violated the resolution.
The report shows Iran arming Houthi rebels in Yemen with missiles and advanced weaponry, and that is what brought Haley to a hangar near the Defense Intelligence Agency here. The displays in the hangar are irrefutable, concrete proof of Iran’s violations. Missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles, antitank weapons and a Shark-33 boat used to attack a Saudi frigate are among the displays. Examination of the weapons trace them back to Iran and industries owned and operated by the Iranian government or Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.
“This evidence demonstrates a pattern of behavior in which Iran sows conflict and extremism in direct violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions,” she said.
The United States has invited all members of the U.N. Security Council and all members of Congress to view the display. “This evidence is part of what led the U.S. Intelligence Community to conclude — unequivocally — that these weapons were supplied by the Iranian regime. The evidence is undeniable — they might as well have had ‘Made in Iran’ stickers all over them.”
Haley called on all nations of the world to join the United States in resisting Iran as the nation has become “a global threat.”
Iranian Weapons Proof of Tehran’s Duplicitous Ambitions
Successive U.S. administrations have warned of Iran’s malign influence in the Middle East, but lying in a hangar at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling is concrete proof that the Iranian regime is exporting arms to sow instability and promote violence throughout the region.
In the hangar are three intact Iranian weapon systems and debris from a fourth, recovered from the battlefields of the Middle East that can be directly traced to Tehran.
“In October, President [Donald J.] Trump announced a new strategy to address the totality of Iranian threats and malign activities: nuclear; ballistic missile development and proliferation; counter-maritime operations; cyber; and support to terrorism and unconventional warfare,” said Laura Seal, a Defense Department spokesperson, December 14. “Part of the president’s strategy is to clearly show how Iran continues to defy the international community by violating United Nations resolutions.”
The equipment in the hangar is proof of Iran’s malicious strategy, Seal said. “We present this evidence so that we, our allies and international partners — including organizations like the [United Nations] — can be clear eyed about Iran’s activities as we work together,” Seal said.
Specifically, the hangar contains “objects that provide evidence of Iranian weapons proliferation in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions 2216 and 2231,” Seal said.
The U.N. has repeatedly sanctioned Iran for its illicit proliferation. The United States was part of the negotiation team that finally hammered out a deal with Iran to halt its nuclear program. The other nations were China, Russia, Great Britain and France. That deal did not include the other malign activities Iran engages in around the Middle East.
Iran would like to see an Iranian crescent going from northern Iran through Iraq and Syria into Lebanon to the Mediterranean. The regime would also like to extend its hegemony throughout the Persian Gulf and onto the Arabian Peninsula. Iran is operating through and supplying the Houthis in Yemen, officials said.
The weapons systems on display were retrieved from battlefields in the Middle East by U.S. partners in the region — primarily Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Seal said.
The four systems are a short-range ballistic missile, an antitank guided missile, an unmanned aerial vehicle and exploding boat technology. “All four include parts made by [the] Iranian government-run defense industry, and all could have only come from Iran,” Seal said.
There are pieces of two Iranian Qiam missiles launched from Yemen into Saudi Arabia. One targeted the Yanbu oil facility, and the other was aimed at King Khalid International Airport. “Only Iran makes the Qiam,” Seal said.
Another piece of equipment is an Iranian-made antitank guided missile called a Toophan. “This one was obtained by Saudi Arabia on the battlefield,” Seal said. The missile is a high-precision, direct-fire weapon with a range of about 2.4 miles. The Houthis in Yemen use them to target infrastructure and vehicles, officials said, noting that the Houthis do not have the technology to manufacture these weapons.
The display also showcases a Qasef-1 unmanned aerial vehicle operated by Houthi forces, which was recovered by Saudi Arabia. “The Qasef-1 can be used as a one-way attack drone — diving on targets Kamikaze-style and detonating its warhead upon impact,” Seal said. “Only Iran makes the Qasef-1. It is a member of the Ababil UAV family, designed and produced by the Iranian government.”
Finally, the display features the guidance system from an Iranian Shark-33 boat. This is an explosive-laden, unmanned boat used in an attack the Saudi Arabian frigate HMS al Madinah. That attack killed two and injured three and left a 5-by-6.5-foot hole in the ship’s hull, Seal said.
“There are more than half a dozen pieces of evidence demonstrating that these components are directly traceable to Iran,” she said. “What makes the Shark 33 so dangerous isn’t just that it can explode. It has a guidance system allowing it to track and hit a moving target without an operator on board, so the boat can be deployed to blow up a ship without sending someone on a suicide mission. The computer and sensors serve as that unmanned guidance system for the Shark 33 — and they are supplied by Iran.”
Finally, the boat’s onboard camera captures a still image of its location every time the guidance software turns on. “Images found on the Shark 33’s computer show it inside what is probably an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps facility in eastern Tehran,” she said.
The display is the first step of U.S. strategy to clearly show how Iran continues to defy the international community. “It is clear Iran is arming dangerous militia and terror groups with advanced weaponry to sow instability and violence,” Seal said. “But we are not on a road to war with Iran — just the opposite. The U.S. wants Iran to act as a responsible nation and enhance security and stability in a region that has suffered from Tehran’s efforts to undermine international order by instigating violence and political chaos.”
Source: US Department of Defense