Irans Global Reach
The degree of efficacy with which Irans intelligence agencies could gather meaningful intelligence in support of an armed conflict with the United States in the case of the former taking military action against the latter due to Irans nuclear program is somewhat difficult to ascertain. The difficulty, of course, lies in the decidedly specious nature of Irans intelligence capacity which, for the sake of public appearances, is largely posited to include “intelligence about the Middle East and Central Asia and domestic intelligence and monitoring of clerical and government officials as well as work on preventing conspiracies against the Islamic republic” (Cordesman 2007, 13). However, there is also a significant amount of evidence in existence that underscores the fact that Irans intelligence and military capabilities have expanded throughout the globe, either directly through the nation or through its affiliation with other nation states, which may be able to deliver a significant amount of intelligence to aid in an armed conflict with the U.S. To that end, it is not inconceivable that Iran could gather sufficient intelligence about the United States, although due to the nature of the military network with which such information would be gathered, the expedience and the effectiveness of it would more than likely not be as comparable to that which it could provide for a foe closer to the middle east nation.
The following quotation underscores both the demonstrated level of respect worthy of Iranian intelligence forces as well as the pervasiveness of its surreptitious nature which makes it largely difficult to gauge in terms of its expansion to western powers and operations within the U.S. “Irans Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS is ranked by experts as one of the largest and most active intelligence agencies in the middle East, having masterminded 450 acts of terrorism throughout the world since the 1980s, yet it has been shrouded in so much mystery that apart from the occasional revelations by the Iranian Resistance, little has ever been made public about its operations and functions” (No author 2005).
There is a cutting duality to the elucidation of this quotation, which not only underscores the potency of MOIS (“450” terrorist acts since the “1980s”) but also the inherent circumscriptions regarding the nature of those acts, since the organization is described as mysterious. Furthermore, it should be noted that most of the known acts of aggression that MOIS has been at least partly responsible for have taken place in regions that are closer to its Middle Eastern basis of operations. Yet the potential for MOIS to expand its operations to encompass the monitoring and surveillance of North America lies in the high degree of autonomy which it has at its disposal, and which is “directly answerable to the Iranian regimes Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei” (No author 2005). Its autonomous nature is typified by the fact that it “has a secret budget, and stands above the law” (No author 2005).
In the wake of such descriptions of MOISs potential and traditional base of operations, it becomes prudent to examine the Irans international connections which may aid the organization in gathering intelligence about the U.S. In the event that the latter were to induce military action against the Middle Eastern nation due to it production of and proclivity for nuclear weapons. The most salient of these connections include fairly intimate relationships with a group known as the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and with the Al Quds force, which is proven by the following quotation. “The IRGC has contributed some 125,000 men to Irans forces in recent years and has substantial capabilities for asymmetric warfare and covert operations. This includes the Al Quds Force and other elements that operate covertly or openly overseas, working with Hezbollah of Lebanon, Shiite militias in Iraq, and Shiites in Afghanistan (Cordesman 2007, 3).” What is significant about this quotation is the widespread network that MOIS has with the aforementioned organizations, that have infiltrated through nation states outside of Iran and engaged in “covert operations,” of which intelligence is an essential component.