CIA Error may Have Aided Iran Nuclear Plan

THE CIA may inadvertently have helped Iran develop nuclear technology during the Clinton administration by giving it blueprints for a Russian nuclear weapon, according to the author who revealed the Bush Administration's decision to eavesdrop on Americans

CIA Error may Have Aided Iran Nuclear Plan

The agency hoped that by giving the Iranians blueprints with deliberate flaws it would disrupt their attempts to acquire nuclear technology. But the Russian defector they chose to deliver the plans recognised they had flaws and handed them over with a note warning they would not work.

 

James Risen, national security reporter for The New York Times, claims in State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration that the blueprints could have actually accelerated Iran's weapons development. Risen also alleges that in 2004 a CIA officer mistakenly sent one of its Iranian agents data that could be used to identify virtually every CIA spy in Iran.

 

The Iranian turned out to be a double agent who turned over the information to Iranian security officials, allowing them to "roll up" the CIA's network in the country. He says CIA sources told him several were arrested and jailed, while the fate of others is not known. "It left the CIA virtually blind in Iran, unable to provide any significant intelligence on one of the critical issues facing the United States — whether Tehran was about to go nuclear," Risen writes.

 

He also cites intelligence gaffes that fuelled the Bush Administration's case for war against Saddam Hussein, spawned a culture of torture throughout the US military and encouraged the rise of heroin cultivation and trafficking in post-war Afghanistan. The CIA had evidence from 30 Iraqi weapons scientists that Saddam Hussein had abandoned his weapons of mass destruction programs long before the US invaded, according to the book.

 

It claims that Iraq tried to open a back channel to the US before the war to tell the Americans they had no weapons of mass destruction. Risen says a Lebanese-American businessman called Imad Hage flew to Baghdad and met the head of the Iraqi intelligence service. "He told Hage that Iraq had no WMD, and to prove it the regime was willing to let the Americans in to look for themselves."

 

Mr Hage flew to London and met Richard Perle, an influential neo-conservative with impeccable contacts inside the Administration. Mr Perle called a senior CIA officer, who told him the only message they had for the Iraqis was that "we will see them in Baghdad".

 

In the book, Risen said he based his accounts on interviews with dozens of intelligence officials who, while unnamed, have proven reliable in the past. Mr Bush has confirmed the existence of the program to eavesdrop on Americans through the National Security Agency but condemned the Times for the December report, which Risen co-authored, and its use of confidential sources.

 

The CIA issued a statement yesterday saying State of War contained errors in every chapter. The book's release date was moved forward in the wake of the eavesdropping controversy.

 

The New York Times delayed publication of its story on the domestic spying effort for a year, in part due to personal requests from Mr Bush. Critics have questioned whether the paper could have published the information before last year's presidential election if it had decided against a delay. Newspaper officials have refused to comment on reasons for the delay or its exact timing.

 

New York Times officials also refused to publish a news article about the reported CIA plot to give flawed nuclear plans to Iran, according to a person briefed on the newspaper's conversations by one of the participants. That person said the Times withheld publication at the request of the White House and former CIA director George Tenet.

 

The US yesterday threatened to seek international action against Iran if it resumes nuclear fuel research, suggesting patience could be wearing thin.

Source: The Age

Last Mod: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
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