Why Iran Thinks America Won't Attack

Iranian agents have successfully infiltrated American think-tanks, universities, and our political system as part of a plot to keep the United States from attacking the Islamic regime as it continues to expand terrorism worldwide and pursue its nuclear weapons and missile programs.

The infiltration goal is to mold American opinion and create doubt about the advisability of attacking Iran's nuclear facilities -- all part of a longstanding strategy to pull the strings of America and the West.

Iranian leaders first successfully engaged U.S. forces in Iraq at a time when President Bush was in an offensive policy of confronting Islamists after 9/11.  The Iranians correctly believed that if America got bogged down in Iraq, it would not want to open another front with Iran before stabilizing Iraq, buying Iran time for nuclear development.

Iran had already infiltrated the Shiite majority in Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War.  At that time, I was working as a CIA spy in the Revolutionary Guards and was reporting their activities to America.  When the U.S. went to war against Saddam, the Iranians began a campaign of terror in Iraq that not only crippled America financially by stringing out an unfunded war, but killed many U.S. soldiers.

The same infiltration policy was enforced in Afghanistan with the training and arming of Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters against NATO forces.

That strategy kept Iran's rulers out of harm's way, allowed them to pursue their nuclear and missile programs with impunity, and forced America to rethink its involvement in the region.  They called their strategy a great victory over the "Great Satan."

Their planning was multilayered.  Another aspect of it was to infiltrate America itself, a plan right of the KGB playbook.  Fake dissidents were placed in America's think-tanks and pro-Iran academics in its universities.  Nonprofit organizations were formed.  All the ensuing propaganda targeted American public opinion and foreign policy.

The Iranian agents easily became the voice for negotiations and argued against sanctions and war.  They successfully attached themselves to antiwar groups, including Occupy Wall Street, and infiltrated the American media, mostly those open to their softer approach.

In this Iranian Intelligence Ministry plot, outlines were passed to its assets in the U.S. to use such arguments as:

  1. Sanctions hurt innocent Iranians and not the regime;
  2. any act of war will unite Iranians around the very regime they despise;
  3. the nuclear issue is a nationalistic issue that the majority of Iranians support and therefore cannot be the center of the West's confrontation with Iran;
  4. Iranian dissidents don't want the West's support because if the West supports them, the regime will label them as Western agents; and
  5. Iran is a rational regime, and negotiations are the only way to resolve the issues.

The strategy sought to buy time to build a formidable military so the West would fear retaliation should it attack the regime, which knew full well that the global economy is dependent on a stable flow of energy out of the Persian Gulf and that any long-term disruption could create havoc for the U.S. and West.

The Islamic regime today has over 1,000 ballistic missiles, many in underground silos spread throughout the country and capable of reaching not only every U.S. military base in the region, but also capitals in Western Europe.  Meanwhile, it is working on intercontinental ballistic missiles with the help of China and North Korea.

It also has armed Hezb'allah with 40,000 rockets and missiles and armed Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Syria with missiles, explosives, and conventional weapons.  Meanwhile, it has expanded its collaboration with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and rebels in Yemen and Bahrain, and extended its reach into Latin America and Africa.

This strategy has bought Iran sufficient time to produce enough enriched uranium for six nuclear bombs and speed up its enrichment to the 20-percent level at the Natanz and Fordow facilities.  That material within weeks could be further enriched to weaponization grade.

Iran's leaders believe that with the current global economic climate, specifically in the United States and Europe, and it being an American election year, the talks of a military option to take out the nuclear facilities amount to a bluff.  They believe they hold the key to President Obama's re-election, as any instability in the region and in the price of energy will send America back into a severe recession.

More dangerous is their belief that even a limited conflict with America will help their status as the leader of a worldwide Islamic movement and trigger the downfall of regimes in the region more friendly to the U.S.; help the Syrian regime out of its current crisis; and push the military junta out of power in Egypt, helping solidify control by the Muslim Brotherhood.

As the Iranian strategist Mehdi Mohammadi recently stated, as Iran progresses on the nuclear front, the West will realize that not only will a military option no longer work, but neither will sanctions.  Then the West will have to accept a nuclear Iran.

Iranian leaders also believe that since Israel would now have to act alone, it will not risk thousands of missiles from many fronts raining down on Tel Aviv and ultimately will also accept a nuclear Iran.

Most of all, they believe that once Iran is nuclear-armed, the West will be checkmated, as the cost of any confrontation at that time would be the destruction of the world.

The leaders of the Islamic regime have often said, "While the West loves life, martyrdom is an honor for us."

Therein lies the dilemma for the West: bear the economic and human costs of destroying Iran's nuclear facilities now, or accept a nuclear-armed Iran that is bent on paving the way for the return of the 12th  Imam Mahdi and the global dominance of Islam.

Reza Kahlili is a pseudonym for a former CIA operative in Iran's Revolutionary Guards and the author of the award-winning book A Time to Betray.  He is a senior fellow with EMPact America, a member of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security, and teaches at the U.S. Department of Defense's Joint Counterintelligence Training Academy (JCITA).

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