According to the report, the signs include significant movements of Iranian weapons which could be used for such a strike.
YONAH JEREMY BOB
As NATO meets to consider its next steps regarding Iran and other issues, Tehran may be readying a more aggressive approach against US interests to break the nuclear standoff.
Based on multiple anonymous US defense and administration officials, CNN reported on Wednesday that there is fresh intelligence of a potential Iranian threat against US forces and interests in the Middle East.
According to the report, the signs include significant movements of Iranian weapons that could be used for such a strike.
This follows a report from Iran’s Mehr news agency on Saturday that the Iranian Army’s Deputy Commander for Operations R.-Adm. Mahmoud Moussavi threatened retaliation for what the Islamic Republic has dubbed a US attack on one of its tankers.
In the broader picture, Iran continues to be stymied by its inability to get rid of US sanctions that are projected to shrink its economy by 8.7% next year and are already viewed as having worsened the economic situation in a way that has stoked internal protests against the government.
Despite Tehran having announced four violations of the 2015 nuclear deal, one every two months since May, Iran has failed to get the US to reduce its maximum pressure campaign.
Iran may also seek a distraction as it faces the scandal of the protests and its killing of an estimated over 200 of its own people to try to put down the protest.
Another reason to think Iran may escalate its use of force against US interests is that it has gotten away with doing so in recent months.
Previously, Iran shot down an expensive US drone with US President Donald Trump canceling a counter-strike, rather than risk escalation.
Further, the US never responded to a massive Iranian strike on Saudi oil fields or to Iran’s hijacking multiple US-allied ships sailing through the Persian Gulf.
Reportedly, the US has responded with multiple cyberattacks, but nothing at the level that would completely deter Iran from staging some sort of use of force against US interests.
Going into the US presidential election year, Trump has repeatedly tried to present himself as disengaging the US from war and conflict in the Middle East and elsewhere.
Iran may see all of this as an opening to strike the US to try to push Trump into cutting a deal for reducing sanctions, which otherwise he may not agree to.
If Iran makes this decision, then the question will be whether US intelligence will move fast enough to thwart the attack.
If Iran goes on the offensive and succeeds, Trump’s commitment to the Iran maximum pressure campaign and looking tough versus his desire to withdraw US power from the Middle East will be tested.