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. In the annual threat-assessment hearing in Congress Tuesday, America’s top intelligence officers pointed to some strides made in American’s espionage – and some considerable shortfalls, as well. 

Here are the top four pieces of good and bad news to come out of the annual assessment:

1. Iran: good news

Kamran Jebreili/AP/File
Ships pass south of the Strait of Hormuz near Oman in this file photo.

Despite the increasingly dire warnings about an imminent US showdown with Iran (and vice versa), Iran “has not made the decision to go ahead with a nuclear weapon,” Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told the Senate Intelligence Committee in unveiling the assessment.

“Iran is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons,” the assessment notes. “We do not know, however, if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons.” 

The leadership in Iran is also realistic in its assessment about how risky moves like closing down the Strait of Hormuz – and the all-but-guaranteed US response – would affect their ability to retain power, according to intelligence officials.

“We judge Iran’s nuclear decision-making is guided by a cost-benefit approach, which offers the international community opportunities to influence Tehran,” according to the assessment. “Iranian leaders undoubtedly consider Iran’s security, prestige, and influence when making decisions about its nuclear program.”

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