“Iran’s malign behavior hasn’t abated since before during or after the nuclear deal in the domains in which I see — which is their development of ballistic missiles, their activities in Syria and Yemen, and in other [Mideastern] nations,” Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, told lawmakers.  McKenzie has served as the director of the Joint Staff since August 2017.  He also called Iran the region’s “most significant long- and short-term threat.”

Iranian Aggression & Bad Actions Since the JCPOA

  • Iran (presumably) was behind attacks on major Saudi oil facilities that cut oil supplies by 5%.  A U.S. official said the attack on plants in Saudi Arabia’s oil industry, including the world’s biggest petroleum-processing facility at Abqaiq, came from the direction of Iran, and cruise missiles may have been used.  Secretary of State Pompeo said there was no evidence the attack came from Yemen, and accused Iran of committing it.
  • Iran is committed to a program of weapons of mass destruction, the domestic intelligence agency for the southern German state of Bavaria said in its May 2019 intelligence report. The report states Iran’s regime is “making efforts to expand its conventional arsenal of weapons with weapons of mass destruction.”
  • Iran has planned terror attacks:
    • An Iranian diplomat and three others, Belgian’s of Iranian descentwere arrested for plotting a bomb attack on a rally held by an exiled Iranian opposition group – the People’s Mojahedin of Iran (MEK) – in France.  Germany charged the diplomat – a “third counselor” based in Vienna, Austria – with “activity as a foreign agent and conspiracy to commit murder.”  The diplomat coordinated with officials in Tehran.  Both the U.S. and the French government confirmed that Iran was responsible.  The Belgian authorities found 500 grams of the powerful homemade explosive TATP and an ignition mechanism hidden in a car.  Among those who attended the rally were Americans such as former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, former FBI Director Louis Freeh, former Homeland Security Advisor Frances Townsend and former U.S. Army chief of staff Gen. George Casey.  Other prominent attendees were the former Canadian prime minister, Stephen Harper, and former French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner. There were about 25,000 people at the rally.
    • Denmark has arrested a Norwegian national of Iranian descent on suspicion of helping prepare assassinations of Iranian Arab separatists.
    • The Dutch government has accused Iran of hiring criminal gangs to murder two Iranian dissidents in the Netherlands, one in 2015 and the other in 2017.  Both of the victims were Iranian Arab separatists.
    • From the summer of 2017 to the spring of 2018 Iranian agents crisscrossed Orange County and the United States, videotaping participants at MEK rallies in New York and Washington, D.C., and photographing Jewish centers in Chicago. These Iranian operatives are compiling what are known as “target packages” to undertake prospective future assassinations and terrorist attacks. 
    • Iran’s ambassador and first secretary to Albania were found to be intelligence agents plotting attacks on the 2,500 Iranian dissidents from the MEK who have set up a compound near Tirana.
    • Masked agents of Iran physically beat an opponent of the Iranian regime in Berlin, Germany, according to a German police report.
    • Swedish police arrested an Iraqi journalist on suspicion of operating as an Iranian spy, who was spying on members of an Ahwazi opposition group which has been repeatedly targeted by Iranian assassins. 
  • Iran threatened the Persian Gulf oil route (through which 30% of the world’s oil passes each year).  After supposed “moderate” Iranian President Rouhani hinted at it, he later explicitly told state television, “if someday, the United States decides to block Iran’s oil [exports], no oil will be exported from the Persian Gulf.”  Prominent Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC) leaders also explicitly threatened it. “If they want to stop Iranian oil exports, we will not allow any oil shipment to pass through the Strait of Hormuz,” IRGC commander Ismail Kowsari said.  And Qasem Soleimani, the IRGC Quds force commander wrote in a letter to Rouhani that was made public that the IRGC “is ready to implement a policy that hinders regional oil exports if the United States bans Iranian oil sales.”  
    • In May of 2019, Iranian or Iranian-backed proxies used explosives to blow large holes in four ships, 2 of them from Saudi Arabia, 1 from Norway, and 1 from the UAE,  anchored off the U.A.E. Since those attacks, other confrontations have followed.
    • In June of 2019, Iran shot down a U.S. drone.
    • Iran has seized three oil tanks in the Persian Gulf.  The UK ship may have been seized in retaliation for the UK’s stopping an Iranian oil tanker in the waters off Gibraltar that was smuggling oil to Syria.
    • Iran was aggressive in the Persian Gulf.  U.S. forces operating in and around the Strait of Hormuz were often approached by Iranian warships and aircraft in an “unsafe or unprofessional manner.”  According to the Navy, this happened 22 times in 2015, 36 times in 2016, 14 times in 2017, before stopping in 2018.  However, Iranian boats continue to shadow U.S. ships.
    • U.S. Navy ships fired warning shots and had interactions with Iranian vessels in 2017. 
    • The navy of the IRGC fired several rockets near a U.S. aircraft carrier and a destroyer.  
    • Iran violated international law by grabbing two U.S. Navy ships and ten sailors until releasing them the next day.  The sailors surrendered to protect the Iran nuclear deal.  Iran’s army chief said the seizure should be considered a lesson to Congress.  The sailors were intimidated, humiliated and made to “apologize.”  Iran has bragged that it (illegally) extracted a lot of information from the confiscated phones and laptops and that it has humiliating films.  It has released some embarrassing pictures.  
  • Google, Facebook, and Twitter have uncovered a disinformation attack from Iran.  Facebook has said that this campaign has been ongoing since 2011.
  • Iran has violated UN Resolution 1929 and the “spirit of UNSCR 2231” by testing as 23 ballistic missiles, with at least 16 nuclear capable. This includes testing intermediate and long-range ballistic missiles, which “only make economic, political, and military sense” to become a nuclear weapons power. Iran has the largest and most diverse ballistic missile arsenal in the region.  
    • The UK, France and Germany have demanded an investigation to see if Iran violated the UNSCR 2231.
    • Iran twice violated the UN ballistic missile testing restrictions on it prior to Implementation day.  
    • In 2016, Iran fired 10 to 11 missiles than can be considered nuclear-capable.
    • In 2017, Iran fired four such tests of medium-range missiles and one test launch of a short range missile.
    • In 2018, Iran fired at least 7 medium-range missiles and at least 5 short-range missiles & cruise missiles.
    • In 2019, Iran conducted failed satellite launches and rocket tests.  This technology is also useful for missiles carrying a nuclear weapon. 
    • Iran vowed to expand and enhance its missiles and is doing so increasingly
    • Iran already revealed a new underground missile depot, a Syrian rocket site, and a new missile line
    • On March 8 and 9, 2016, Iran conducted multiple missile tests, and called the U.S. the “main enemy”.  The missiles had printed on them the slogan “Israel must be wiped out.”  
    • Iran is cooperating with North Korea.
    • Iran is still growing its stockpile of ballistic missiles and testing them.
  • Iran, through its proxy forces in Yemen, is turning the Bab el-Mandeb waterway into a militarized chokepoint that threatens freedom of navigation.  Forty-four IRGC and Hizballah operatives have been killed or captured in Yemen.  In Oct. of 2016, Iran supported Yemen’s Shia Houthi rebels fired anti-ship missiles at the destroyer USS Mason, off the coast of Yemen.  The missiles failed to hit their target.  In response, U.S. cruise missile strikes destroyed three Houthi coastal radar installations.  The missiles fired by the Houthis were likely supplied by Iran, and the technical expertise necessary to operate and fire them would almost certainly have required Iranian assistance if not control.  Iran deployed two warships to the Gulf of Aden in response to the U.S. strikes.  Saudi Arabia has been targeted by a total of 80 ballistic missiles fired by the Houthis, and in January of 2017, the Houthis attacked a Saudi frigate off the coast of Yemen, which U.S. defense officials believe it may have been meant for an American warship.  In 2019, the Houthis used armed drones to strike two Saudi pumping stations and an arms depot. 
  • Iran is also funding and training Shia radical terror groups in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia and Morocco.
    • Iran is the “biggest state sponsor of terrorism” or the “leading sponsor of terrorism” or “the central banker of international terrorism.”  Iran spent a portion of the more than $10 billion the U.S. gave it to fund terror.  They also used part of the $1.7 billion for that. 
      • It established the al Sabirin terror group in Gaza & the West Bank, with a $10 million annual budget.  
      • Iran funds Hezbollah, annually, $800 million to $1 billion, a boost (from $200 million) after the JCPOA.  
      • Iran recently boosted funding for Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad to $360 million a year.     
      • The Iranian parliament passed a bill that authorizes the country to join the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism (CFT), one of several prerequisites for Iran’s removal from the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) blacklist of states that engage in systemic money laundering and terror finance.  But the bill carves out exemptions for the specific purpose of facilitating funds to support Hamas, Hezbollah, and other groups designated abroad as terrorist organizations. 
      • Iran has supported the Islamic State (IS) in the Sinai, through its funding of Hamas.
      • Bin Laden once described Iran as al Qaeda’s “main artery for funds, personnel, and communication” and Iran has continued to assist al-Qaeda. Lebanon’s Hezbollah may get over $830 million annually, and Hamas receives about $360 million each year. Iran’s favorite militias in Iraq got as much as $1 billion a year. In Yemen, Iran’s Houthi proxies may get $30 million per month in Iranian fuel to fund their effort.
    • The IRGC is sending assets to infiltrate the U.S. and Europe at the direction of Leader Khamenei.  Some of these spies have threatened the international press, including VOA, to ensure positive coverage.
    • Iran launched cyber-attacks against the U.S., the UK, and other targets, including once right after the deal.  Iran has developed a new “highly active” espionage group that is breaking into networks of government organizations and firms located in the Middle East.  It also pushes propaganda on social media. One Iranian fake source fooled Pakistan into issuing a nuclear threat against Israel.
    • The head of Iran’s Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani, who is subject to a UN travel ban, has defied this ban multiple times.
    • Under President Rouhani, Amnesty International has said that Iran has conducted “a staggering execution spree”, murdering so many dissidents that Iran has per capita the highest execution rate in the world.  During his first term, Rouhani presided over more than 3,000 executions.  (His predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, executed at least 1,095 people during his first term and at least 2,322 during his second.) 
      • Child executions have also increased.  A majority of those executed are drug dealers or users.  Iran executed the entire adult male population of a village for drug offences.
    • Iran has escalated its involvement in Syria.  Iran has sent more than 50,000-90,000 Shia troops into Syria: 10,000-16,000 Iranians, a majority of which are IRGC, and 1500 of which are part of the Quds force; up to 10,000 fighters from Hezbollah; about 20,000 Iraqi militiamen; 15,000-20,000 Afghans; and 5000-7000 Pakistanis.  Iran uses Iran Air, Mahan Air and other “civilian” Iranian airlines for this.  Iran pays for and extensively trains these troops.  
      • Iran is building a military base in Syria, 31 miles from Israel, and has created a Shia Syrian militia.
      • Iran has helped create an Alawite militia named the National Defense Forces, of up to 100,000 men.

 

  • Over Iranian 2,300 soldiers lost their lives propping up the Assad regime.
    • The U.S. has determined that Iranians are waging “ethnic cleansing” campaigns in the areas of Syria controlled by Assad to eradicate or send into exile Sunni Muslims and replace them with Shia Muslims.  The Shia Muslims are coming from Iraq or Lebanon or elsewhere.  Iranian-led troops have been responsible for mass executions, and attacks on civilians, including on women and children.  Or, the Iranians pressure or bribe Sunnis to convert.
    • Iran is trying to build an air base in Syria and a missile factory, and provide additional weapons to terrorists in Lebanon in an apparent effort to threaten Israel from two directions. 
    • The Treasury Department has added two Iran-backed groups to its official list of terrorists – The Fatemiyoun Division, composed of Afghanis, and the Zaynabiyoun Brigade, consisting of Pakistanis. 
    • The Treasury Department has sanctioned at least three airlines that help send weapons to Syria to its official list of terrorists – Mahan Air, Qeshm Fars Air and Armenia-based Flight Travel LLC. 
  • Iran is dominating Iraq.  It is setting up a land corridor from Iran to Iraq to Syria to Lebanon.
  • Iran is supplying funding, weapons, and training to the Taliban in Afghanistan.
  • Iran has arrested and imprisoned six U.S. persons, Siamak Namazi, Baquer Namazi, Reza “Robin” Shahini, Karan Vafadari (a resident), graduate student Xiyue Wang, Navy Veteran Michael White, and (probably) an eighth, Robert Levinson.  Other foreigners have also been seized and ransomed by the Iranians. 
    • Shahini was given an 18 year sentence for “collaboration with a hostile government,” i.e., the U.S.
    • Zakka was given a 10-year sentence for “spying” for the U.S.  Iran wants money for his release. 
    • Iran sentenced the Namazis to 10 years in prison on charges of cooperating with the U.S.
    • Post reporter Jason Rezaian filed a lawsuit against Iran, claiming he was tortured while he was held.
  • Iran ran a “large-scale” counterfeiting ring for the IRGC worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
  • Iran has announced a new Holocaust cartoon contest.  The prize is $50,000.
  • Iran’s forces allowed Iranians to sack the Saudi Embassy to protest the execution of a Shia Saudi cleric.
  • Iranian state media added $600,000 to a bounty for the killing of author Salman Rushdie.
  • Iran pledged that Palestinian terrorists will receive $7,000, & $30,000 if their home was demolished. 
  • Iran intends to produce the powerful explosive Octogen for use in the warheads of its missiles to improve their “destructive and penetration power.” Octogen is also used as part of the detonator in an atomic bomb.
  • Iran has laid out a plan to attack the U.S. electrical grid in an Iranian military document.
  • Iran is solidifying its foothold in Latin America.
  • Leader Khamenei’s organization, The Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order (EIKO), continues to confiscate the assets of Iranian civilians. EIKO, worth an estimated $95 billion dollars, “holds stakes in nearly every sector of Iranian industry, including finance, oil, telecommunications, the production of birth-control pills and even ostrich farming.” EIKO has also amassed a vast real-estate portfolio. 
  • In 2015, soon after the JCPOA was agreed to, terrorists linked to Iran were caught stockpiling large amounts of explosives in London. 
  • Iranian Quds force and Hezbollah in Germany were spying on German Jews, Israelis, and pro-Israeli institutions for possible attacks. 
  • Iran has established a terrorist infrastructure in Africa.

About the Author

The Endowment for Middle East Truth
Founded in 2005, The Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) is a Washington, D.C. based think tank and policy center with an unabashedly pro-America and pro-Israel stance. EMET (which means truth in Hebrew) prides itself on challenging the falsehoods and misrepresentations that abound in U.S. Middle East policy.

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