A US top official said Iran would increase its targeting of Americans and US allies as a result of the Biden administration’s significant sanctions relief and offer to return to the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement.
US Army Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said in a testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) would increase targeting against US partners in the region, as well as US forces if they had increased funding due to sanctions relief.
He warned that Iran - through its partners and proxies - threatens neighbors in the Middle East and American forces, while enriching uranium to new levels.
His remarks came in response to mounting criticism by Republicans, who accuse President Joe Biden’s administration of offering major sanctions waivers to Tehran in exchange for its return to the nuclear deal.
The US intelligence hinted that Iran still poses a major threat to the United States and its interests.
Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said during the same hearing that the Iranian regime continues to threaten US interests as it tries to “erode US influence in the Middle East, trench its influence, project power in neighboring states and minimize threats to regime stability.”
She also warned that the iterative violence between Israel and Iran has the potential to escalate or spread.
Moreover, she remarked that Iran’s frequent efforts to assassinate current and former US officials are an attempt to avenge Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani’s killing in a US drone strike in Iraq in January 2020.
“A fair amount of their motivation in this scenario we assess to be in relation to Soleimani as part of their sort of efforts for revenge, and is a particularly challenging area, I think, to deter them from action in this space,” she said, noting that she could go into further details in a closed session.
Bipartisan lawmakers' dissatisfaction with Biden's Iran policy was evident during the hearing.
Senator Jack Reed, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee said in the four years since then-President Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran has made key nuclear advances.
“While negotiations to return Iran to the JCPOA are in the final stages, the final outcome has not yet been determined,” he added.
He stressed that Iran and its proxies continue to mount drone and rocket attacks in the region, including against bases in Iraq and Syria where the US has forces deployed, Saudi Arabia, and now the United Arab Emirates.