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Trump Chides 'Naive' U.S. Spy Chiefs Over Iran Threat Assessment


FBI Director Christopher Wray (left to right), CIA Director Gina Haspel, and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats arrive with other U.S. intelligence community officials to testify before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on "worldwide threats" in Washington on January 29.

President Donald Trump has chided U.S. intelligence heads for being "extremely passive and naive" on Iran after their Congressional testimony went against his views.

"The Intelligence people seem to be extremely passive and naive when it comes to the dangers of Iran. They are wrong!" Trump said in a January 30 message on Twitter.

The president's tweet comes a day after intelligence chiefs told a Senate committee that the threat from Iran has subsided as Tehran was not taking steps toward making a nuclear bomb.

"Since ending the terrible Iran Nuclear Deal, they are MUCH different, but a source of potential danger and conflict. They are testing Rockets (last week) and more, and are coming very close to the edge. There economy is now crashing, which is the only thing holding them back. Be careful of Iran. Perhaps Intelligence should go back to school!" he added.

The United States reinstated sanctions on Iran in November after pulling out of a 2015 nuclear deal, in which Tehran received international sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.

U.S. intelligence officials told the Senate Intelligence Committee on January 29 that while Tehran had threatened to reverse some commitments after Trump pulled out of the deal, it was still not violating the agreement by developing nuclear weapons.

They also made other assessments that broke with statements by Trump, including on the threat posed by Russia to U.S. elections, the threat that the Islamic State militant group poses in Syria and North Korea's commitment to denuclearize.

The breaking of the deal by the United States has exacerbated Iran's economic problems, with its currency, the rial, losing around half of its value against the U.S. dollar last year.

Relations between the two countries remain tense, with both sides ratcheting up their rhetoric.

Earlier this month Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, mocked U.S. officials, calling them "first-class idiots."

Khamenei also taunted an unnamed U.S. official for predicting there would be regime change in Iran by the end of 2018.

It's not the first time Trump has opposed the view of top U.S. intelligence officials.

Trump faced widespread criticism for comments at a July 16 summit in Helsinki in which he suggested that he believed Putin's denials about alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election that put him in office, contradicting conclusions by the U.S. intelligence community.

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