Iran's revolutionary government has taken a confrontational stance toward the U.S. since its inception. Recently, though, it has increased its hostile rhetoric and actions: 

  • President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad pledged that  "a world without America" is attainable.
  • Iranian diplomats have threatened "harm and pain" if the U.S. is too vigilant about pressuring Iran to comply with nuclear program oversight. 
  • The regime has supported insurgent groups in Iraq targeting American troops. 
  • Iran continues to sponsor terrorist groups around the world.

This section provides evidence of both Iran's hostile intentions and its willingness and capability to carry out hostile acts against the United States.


Iranian Intentions
Defense For a Real Threat
Trey Obering and Eric Edelman
The Washington Post, July 6, 2009

"The East-West Institute released a study in late May by U.S. and Russian "experts" on the Iranian missile threat that concluded the threat "is not imminent and that in any event the system currently proposed would not be effective against it." The next day, Defense Secretary Robert Gates says, Iran apparently tested a multistage, solid-propellant missile with a range of 1,200 to 1,500 miles, putting much of Europe within range..."More...

Iranian President at Tehran Conference: "Very Soon, This Stain of Disgrace [i.e. Israel] Will Be Purged From the Center of the Islamic World - and This is Attainable"
Middle East Media Research Institute
October 28, 2005
Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared before the World without Zionism Conference in Tehran: "Is it possible for us to witness a world without America and Zionism? But you had best know that this slogan and this goal are attainable, and surely can be achieved..." More...

Iran Threatens U.S. with 'Harm and Pain'
Associated Press
March 8, 2006
This article reported that Iran threatened the United States with "harm and pain" if the U.S. tried to use the U.N. Security Council to decelerate Iran's nuclear program.

At the time, the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) Board was discussing a critical report on Iran's nuclear program.

"Mohamed ElBaradei suggested that Washington may need to speak with Tehran directly, if negotiations reach the stage of focusing on security guarantees to Tehran in exchange for concessions on its nuclear program." More...

Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses
Kenneth Katzman
May 6, 2008
Iran's nuclear program continues to cause concern for the current administration, in addition to providing military assistance to insurgents in Iraq, as well as Hamas and Hizballah.

The National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) Report, released on December 3, 2007, indicated that Iran was not attempting to develop nuclear weapons. However, the Administration has urged that Iran has continued to enrich uranium, and therefore is still a threat.

To confront Iran, the current Administration has worked to formulate a comprehensive policy response including a substantial naval presence in the Persian Gulf. Yet, the Administration denies any current plans for military action against Iran, however military responses have not been ruled out for the long-term. More... 

Iran's Activities and Influence in Iraq
Kenneth Katzman
July 25, 2008
This CRS report summarizes Iran's relationship with various groups within Iraq, where it is continuing to attempt to wield political influence.

"Iran is materially assisting and influencing major Shiite Muslim factions in Iraq, most of which have ideological, political, and religious ties to Tehran. Among these factions is that of hardline anti-U.S. cleric Moqtada Al Sadr, whose Mahdi Army militia, according to some observers, serves as a proxy force for Tehran against the United States."  More...

Iran's Global Ambitions
Michael Rubin
March 17, 2008
This analysis examines Iran's increasing influence worldwide, including in Latin American and African countries.

"While the United States has focused its attention on Iranian activities in the greater Middle East, Iran has worked assiduously to expand its influence in Latin America and Africa."

"Under Ahmadinejad, Iranian officials have pursued a coordinated diplomatic, economic, and military strategy to expand their influence in Latin America and Africa. They have found success not only in Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Bolivia, but also in Senegal, Zimbabwe, and South Africa." More...

Belligerent Incidents
Iran Threatens Missile Attacks on U.S. Targets
September 18, 2007
In September 2007, Iran threatened to flex its muscles and strike five American targets with ballistic missiles in response to their perception of a threat from the American presence in the region.

Iran has many targets to choose from, including Dubai, the Saudi oilfields, U.S. Central Command headquarters in Qatar, and perhaps Cyprus.

Gen Mohammed Hassan Koussechi said, "Today, the Americans are around our country, but this does not mean that they are encircling us. They are encircled themselves and are within our range." More...

The Capture of the UK Crew
BBC News
March 30, 2007
On March 23, 2007, fifteen British sailors and Marines were detained by Iranian forces, who claimed that the British fleet had entered Iran's territorial waters.

Colonel Setareh, Commander of Arvand Coastguard Base said, "Bearing in mind that British naval boats had previously violated Iranian waters in 2004 and had given commitment in the same year not to repeat this again, they have been handed over to relevant officials for further investigation and the issue is being studied." More...

Iran Boats 'Threatened U.S. Ships'
BBC News
January 7, 2008
Five Iranian speedboats harassed three U.S. Navy ships, approaching them and radioing a threat to blow them up, according to U.S. officials.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the Iranian action was "provocative and dangerous," while Iran claimed it was an "ordinary occurrence." More...

Iran Threat to Close Gulf to Tankers
The Age
August 6, 2008
General Mohammad Ali Jafari, Head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, "warned it can easily close the Persian Gulf to oil shipments and says it has a new long-range naval weapon that can sink ships 300 kilometres away."

Days after threats of new sanctions against Iran, Jafari said menacingly, "Closing the Strait of Hormuz for an unlimited period of time would be very easy," and mentioned Iran's capability to sink "enemy warships" in the Persian Gulf. More...