Intelligence chiefs ‘naïve’? President says public assessment at odds with Iran policy is ‘wrong’

by WorldTribune Staff, January 30, 2019

U.S. President Donald Trump suggested his intelligence chiefs might want to “go back to school” following their assessment of the threat from Iran, which included the chiefs’ insistence that the Islamic Republic is currently not taking steps toward becoming a nuclear state.

The president tweeted on Jan. 30: “The Intelligence people seem to be extremely passive and naive when it comes to the dangers of Iran. They are wrong! When I became President Iran was making trouble all over the Middle East, and beyond.”

From left, FBI Director Christopher Wray, CIA Director Gina Haspel, and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats arrive for the Senate Intelligence Committee’s hearing on worldwide threats on Jan. 29. / Joshua Roberts / Reuters

Trump continued: “Since ending the terrible Iran Nuclear Deal, they are MUCH different, but a source of potential danger and conflict. They are testing Rockets (last week) and more, and are coming very close to the edge. There economy is now crashing, which is the only thing holding them back. Be careful of Iran. Perhaps Intelligence should go back to school!”

Trump posted the tweets a day after Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, CIA Director Gina Haspel and FBI Director Christopher Wray testified at the Senate Intelligence Committee’s annual worldwide threats hearing.

Coats testified that the intelligence community found that Iran is not currently seeking to develop its nuclear weapons capabilities.

“We continue to assess that Iran is not currently undertaking the key nuclear weapons-development activities we judge necessary to produce a nuclear device,” the assessment reads.

The assessment warns that Iranian officials are threatening to begin building up the country’s nuclear capabilities if Teheran “does not gain the tangible trade and investment benefits it expected” from the Obama-era nuclear deal, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which Trump withdrew the U.S. from last year.

Haspel told the committee: “At the moment, technically they’re in compliance, but we do see them debating amongst themselves as they fail to realize the economic benefits they hope for from the deal.”

Iran’s economy has been hit hard after Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA and re-instituting of sanctions. Iran’s currency, the rial, lost around half of its value against the U.S. dollar last year.

Earlier this month Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei mocked U.S. officials, calling them “first-class idiots.”

The intelligence chiefs also contradicted Trump on the threat from Islamic State (ISIS) and North Korea’s denuclearization commitment.

Related: U.S. intel: ISIS still plotting destabilization, external attacks on West, January 29, 2019

While Trump has said ISIS has been almost completely defeated, the intel leaders said the terror group remains a threat to the United States.

“When I became President, ISIS was out of control in Syria & running rampant. Since then tremendous progress made, especially over last 5 weeks. Caliphate will soon be destroyed, unthinkable two years ago,” Trump said in one tweet on Jan. 30.

Coats told the Senate committee that the intelligence community believes North Korea won’t be willing to fully denuclearize because nuclear weapons are viewed as key to the state’s survival.

Trump tweeted: “North Korea relationship is best it has ever been with U.S. No testing, getting remains, hostages returned. Decent chance of Denuclearization…”

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