Top 4 threats against America: the good and bad news

America’s top spy chiefs and intelligence experts come together every year to share their best guesses about the biggest threats that will face the country in the year ahead. Here are the top four pieces of good and bad news to come out of the annual threat-assessment hearing in Congress Tuesday.

By , Staff writer

2. Iran: bad news

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    Iran fires a Shahab 3 missile in this 2006 file photo. Iran probably has ballistic missiles that could strike Israel, hit a US vessel in the Persian Gulf, or reach southern Europe.
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Iran continues to expand its uranium enrichment capabilities, which could be used for weapons.

Intelligence officials say that Iran would likely choose missile delivery as “its preferred method of delivering a nuclear weapon,” according to the assessment. Iran already has the largest inventory of ballistic missiles in the Middle East, “and it is expanding the scale, reach, and sophistication of its ballistic missile forces, many of which are inherently capable of carrying a nuclear payload." 

The threat assessment expressed alarm at what it cited as the 2011 plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States. The attempt “shows that some Iranian officials – probably including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei – have changed their calculus and are now more willing to conduct an attack in the United States in response to real or perceived US actions that threaten the regime.”

The assessment also warned of concerns “about Iranian plotting against US or allied interests overseas.” Whether they act “will be shaped by Tehran’s evaluation of the costs it bears for the plot against the Ambassador,” the assessment notes, “as well as Iranian leaders’ perceptions of US threats against the regime.”

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