The US Defense Department acknowledged in a report that Iran is continuing to develop technologies that “could be applicable to nuclear weapons,” including ballistic missiles, despite ongoing nuclear negotiations, Bloomberg reported earlier this week.
The acknowledgement came as part of an unclassified summary of a Pentagon assessment of Iran’s military capabilities. The full report, dated January, includes classified details and was submitted to congressional defense committees last week.
Despite Iran’s ongoing technological advances in the field, the assessment concluded the Islamic Republic has “fulfilled its obligations” under the Joint Plan of Action reached with the U.S. and five other world powers and has “paused progress” in parts of its nuclear program.
Yet the report also notes, “Covert activities appear to be continuing unabated”, with the intent of spreading Iranian influence across the Middle East, “particularly in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain, and Yemen.”
The document asserts the Iranian military program is primarily defensive, “designed to deter an attack, survive an initial strike, and retaliate against an aggressor to force a diplomatic solution to hostilities.” The aim is to protect Iran “from the consequence of Tehran’s more aggressive policies, such as use of covert action and terrorism, rather than as a means to project Iranian power.”
US President Barack Obama continues to insist that the Iranian nuclear deal is safe, a position Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not share. In a televised interview during Tuesday’s nation-wide emergency drill, cited by Israel Hayom, Netanyahu said, “When it comes to the security of Israel, I rely first and foremost on ourselves.”
No one else can be trusted to act in Israel’s interests. “The evidence for this is the emerging deal between the world powers and Iran, which is paving Tehran’s path to many nuclear bombs and pouring billions into Iran’s coffers,” he said.
With the money Iran would receive under the emerging agreement, he continued, “Tehran can continue to arm our enemies with high-trajectory and other weapons, and arm its own war and terrorism machine that has been operating against us and the entire Middle East. Iran is far more dangerous than the Islamic State terrorism machine, though it, too, is very dangerous. That is why we will do whatever we can to ensure the security of Israel.”
Israel is not alone in its wariness of the nuclear deal taking shape. Gulf Arab States, most notably Saudi Arabia, have expressed their own concerns regarding Iran’s intentions.