Iran has seeded embassies throughout the world with members of its paramilitary Qods Force and the likelihood that American forces will fight with them is increasing, a new, unclassified Pentagon report says.
The Qods Force is an elite unit in Iran's Revolutionary Guard. It takes its orders from "the highest levels of government, and its leaders report directly, albeit informally, to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei," the report says.
Those forces have grown in Latin American nations, especially in Venezuela, increasing the odds of an engagement with Americans if the forces are tapped in response to any military conflict in the Middle East. The report details how the Qods Forces arms and trains terrorists from Hizballah in Lebanon to terrorist insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"We assess with high confidence that over the last three decades, Iran has methodically cultivated a network of sponsored terrorist surrogates capable of conducting effective, plausibly deniable attacks against Israel and the United States."
Iran views Hizballah, which it helped create, fund, arm and train, "as an essential partner for advancing its regional objectives."
The report also assesses the Iranian nuclear program, finding it has "more than enough low enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon, if further enriched and processed." Production may have been slowed by problems at its Natanz plant, where half the centrifuges may not be working.
The report also projected that, with help, Iran could develop missiles capable of reaching the U.S. by 2015.