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Sunday, July 04, 2010

How to sabotage Iran's nuclear program

Eli Lake explains how the CIA and the Mossad are sabotaging Iran's efforts to become a nuclear power.
Ever since the late ’90s—a few years after Western intelligence services became aware of a Chinese sale of yellowcake uranium to Iran—these kinds of operations have been a mainstay of Washington’s policies toward Tehran. The operations are state secrets, not just a “secret” like the use of drones in Pakistan to kill Al Qaeda leaders, something that Obama joked about in his speech at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Indeed, the government takes these secrets so seriously that it is threatening New York Times reporter James Risen with jail time if he doesn’t reveal his sources for a chapter of his 2006 book, State of War. That chapter disclosed a U.S. intelligence plan from 2000 that sent a Russian nuclear scientist on the CIA payroll to Vienna to hand over flawed bomb design plans to the Iranians.

But, while such sabotage efforts don’t get much public attention, almost everyone familiar with counterproliferation says that these schemes are being directed at Iran’s nuclear program. In New York Times reporter David Sanger’s book The Inheritance, published at the end of the Bush administration, he wrote about sabotage efforts targeting Iran. David Kay, who led the U.N. weapons inspection team in Iraq between 1991 and 1992, as well as the U.S. effort to find those weapons after the 2003 invasion, says he is positive that such sabotage is taking place. “I am certain based on the history of other programs against Iraq and other possible proliferators that activities to make it more difficult to obtain and to operate items crucial to their nuclear weapons program are ongoing,” he explains. “The Israelis have been doing this for years and so have the British.” Michael Adler, an expert on Iran’s nuclear program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, put it this way: “It seems to be clear that there is an active and imaginative sabotage program from several Western nations as well as Israel involving booby-trapping equipment which the Iranians are procuring, tricking black-market smugglers, cyber-operations, and recruiting scientists.” Three current U.S. government officials confirmed that sabotage operations have been a key part of American plans to slow down the Iranian program—and that they are continuing under Obama.
But as good as the sabotage may be, it will only slow down, and not stop, Iran.
The view among most officials and observers seems to be that sabotage is helpful but not, on its own, the answer. Uzi Dayan, a retired major general in the Israel Defense Forces and a former national security adviser to both Ariel Sharon and Ehud Barak, put it this way: “At the end of the day, this approach can delay the program and slow it down. It can put obstacles in the way. But it cannot prevent Iran from achieving their goal.” “Every president since Clinton has tried covert operations to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program. Bush did it, Obama is doing it. The problem is, it’s not a substitute for sound policy,” says Henry Sokolski, the executive director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center. “It is a holding action. What they are not facing is that you have to somehow usher this group of rulers off the stage of history. It is a tough thing to do, it’s not clear how you do it, and they have chosen not to try.”
Read the whole thing.


At 9:45 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Sooner than later Israel has a decision to make: whether to live with a nuclear Iran.

And all the measures taken to date against Iran have not eliminated the threat. That still has to dealt with and remains the biggest test of Netanyahu's tenure as Prime Minister. All the rest is simply a sideshow.

At 7:52 PM, Blogger Juniper in the Desert said...

I hope the Israelis have sabotaged the drones they sold to Turkey!!


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