By Jordy Yager - 02/18/12 04:22 PM EST
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said Iran is responsible for the recent spate of attacks on Israeli officials throughout the world.
“I can say with a very high degree of confidence that Iran was involved, and some of its more-known intelligence — both military and civilian intelligence services — were engaged in these events,” Rogers said in an interview set to air Saturday evening on NPR’s “All Things Considered.”
Rogers’s comments come amid a growing degree of tensions in Washington surrounding Iran and its refusal to halt its uranium-enrichment efforts, which U.S. officials say could be used to make a nuclear warhead. An increasing number of lawmakers are calling for the United States to consider military action against Iran as a preemptive measure.
Though top U.S. officials, including Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, have repeatedly said that all options are on the table when considering appropriate actions toward Iran, the White House said this week that the president remains committed to using sanctions and diplomacy to persuade Iran to abandon its nuclear weapons ambitions.
Rogers said the sanctions have made Iran “not only desperate but dangerous,” as evidenced by the recent attacks on Israelis abroad.
“The sanctions have really brought them down to their knees: It’s hard to get cash, inflation is high, food prices are outrageous,” he said.
“So that is having an effect. And I think what you saw with the assassination attempts is [Iran saying], ‘We won’t be intimidated; yes we’re pushing forward with our nuclear weapons program, but if you want to talk to us about it, we’re willing to do that.’
“I think that was their way of saying, ‘Hey we want to negotiate from strength and not weakness.’”
Top defense and intelligence officials testified this week on Capitol Hill, saying Iran had yet to make a decision on whether to officially pursue a nuclear weapon and that Israel had not decided whether to launch an attack against its Middle Eastern neighbor.