March 5, 2010

March 5, 2010 | Factsheet on Middle East, Iran

The Iranian Regime: What You Need to Know

Iran's Terrorism Credentials

  •  State Sponsor of Terror: Iran has been on the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism since the list's inception and is seen as the world's foremost state sponsor of terrorism. It continues to provide arms, training, and financial support to a wide array of terrorist groups, including Hezbollah, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
  • Active in Iraq and Afghanistan: Iranian Revolutionary Guards have been deployed to both countries to provide support to radical Shia militias and other insurgent groups fighting against and killing U.S. and coalition troops, including providing lethal explosive devices that can destroy the heaviest tanks in the U.S. arsenal.

Growing Nuclear and Ballistic Missile Capability

  • Iran's Growing Ballistic Missile ThreatBallistic Missile Force: Iran has a large and growing ballistic missile force that can reach targets in Israel, Egypt, Turkey, and other U.S. allies, as well as U.S. bases in the Middle East. It has launched a satellite into space, demonstrating that it could soon build an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of targeting American cities.
  • Imminent Nuclear Threat: Iran already has enough enriched uranium to build at least two nuclear weapons if that material is further enriched. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently reported that Iran has conducted experiments that suggest it is working on a nuclear warhead for its missiles. It could build a nuclear weapon in a matter of months to a few years, at most, if the regime decides to push ahead on its weaponization efforts.

No Friend to America, Israel, or Its Neighbors

  • Growing Influence in Middle East: Since the 1979 revolution, the regime in Iran has sought to overthrow the balance of power in the Middle East and export its Islamist revolution, subversion, and terrorism to its neighbors. To advance its goal of establishing hegemony over the oil-rich Persian Gulf, Tehran has sought to drive U.S. influence out of the region and intimidate its neighbors.
  • American Hostages: Iran continues to hold Americans as hostages. Three American hikers who inadvertently strayed over Iran's border last year are being charged with espionage, and an Iranian-American scholar has already been sentenced to at least 12 years in prison for the same charge. Tehran also has stonewalled American efforts to locate a former FBI agent who disappeared on a 2007 trip to Iran.
  • Anti-Israel: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has repeatedly called for the destruction of Israel. If Iran acquires a nuclear weapon, he will be in a position to carry out his threat. In addition, Iran has transferred sophisticated short-range rockets to Hezbollah and Hamas that the two terrorist groups have used to kill Israeli civilians in past wars. Iran continues to work with Syria to build up Hezbollah forces in neighboring Lebanon, which threaten not only Lebanon's stability but Israel's as well.

For more information, please visit:
http://www.heritage.org/Places/Middle-East/Iran

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