It is always disturbing to read about another crucial document being found ‘flawed’ or even ‘fraudulent’. Especially when that document is being pushed hard for further economic sanctions on Iran…
The intrepid Gareth Porter reports on the latest…
Official: U.S. intelligence found Iran nuke document was forged
… U.S. intelligence has concluded that the document published recently by the Times of London, which purportedly describes an Iranian plan to do experiments on what the newspaper described as a "neutron initiator" for an atomic weapon, is a fabrication, according to a former Central Intelligence Agency official.
Philip Giraldi, who was a CIA counterterrorism official from 1976 to 1992, told IPS that intelligence sources say that the United States had nothing to do with forging the document, and that Israel is the primary suspect. The sources do not rule out a British role in the fabrication, however.
The Times of London story published Dec. 14 did not identify the source of the document. But it quoted "an Asian intelligence source" – a term some news media have used for Israeli intelligence officials – as confirming that his government believes Iran was working on a neutron initiator as recently as 2007.
The story of the purported Iranian document prompted a new round of expressions of U.S. and European support for tougher sanctions against Iran and reminders of Israel’s threats to attack Iranian nuclear programme targets if diplomacy fails.
U.S. news media reporting has left the impression that U.S. intelligence analysts have not made up their mind about the document’s authenticity, although it has been widely reported that they have now had a full year to assess the issue.
Giraldi’s intelligence sources did not reveal all the reasons that led analysts to conclude that the purported Iran document had been fabricated by a foreign intelligence agency. But their suspicions of fraud were prompted in part by the source of the story, according to Giraldi.
"The Rupert Murdoch chain has been used extensively to publish false intelligence from the Israelis and occasionally from the British government," Giraldi said.
The Times is part of a Murdoch publishing empire that includes the Sunday Times, Fox News and the New York Post. All Murdoch-owned news media report on Iran with an aggressively pro-Israeli slant.
The document itself also had a number of red flags suggesting possible or likely fraud.
Earlier this year, Gareth wrote this…
The ‘laptop of mass destruction’
…The George W Bush administration has long pushed the "laptop documents" – 1,000 pages of technical documents supposedly from a stolen Iranian laptop – as hard evidence of Iranian intentions to build a nuclear weapon. Now charges based on those documents pose the only remaining obstacles to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) declaring that Iran has resolved all unanswered questions about its nuclear program.
But those documents have also been regarded with great suspicion by US and foreign analysts. German officials identified the source of the laptop documents in November 2004 as the Mujahideen e-Khalq (MEK), which along with its political arm, the National Council of Resistance in Iran (NCRI), is listed by the US State Department as a terrorist organization.
There are some indications, moreover, that the MEK obtained the documents not from an Iranian source but from Israel’s Mossad.
In its latest report on Iran, circulated on February 22, the IAEA, under strong pressure from the Bush administration, included descriptions of plans for a facility to produce "green salt", technical specifications for high explosives testing and the schematic layout of a missile re-entry vehicle that appears capable of holding a nuclear weapon. Iran has been asked to provide full explanations for these alleged activities.
Is ‘Green Salt’ the new ‘Yellow cake’…? Ironic that it was Giraldi that blew the whistle on OSP and Feith/Cheney’s Niger report…!
Here’s the WaPo’s Dafna Linzer reporting back in ’06 on that ‘laptop’…
Strong Leads and Dead Ends in Nuclear Case Against Iran
…U.S. intelligence considers the laptop documents authentic but cannot prove it. Analysts cannot completely rule out the possibility that internal opponents of the Iranian leadership could have forged them to implicate the government, or that the documents were planted by Tehran itself to convince the West that its program remains at an immature stage.
CIA analysts, some of whom had been involved only a year earlier on the flawed assessments of Iraq’s weapons programs, initially speculated that a third country, such as Israel, may have fabricated the evidence. But they eventually discounted that theory.
British intelligence, asked for a second opinion, concurred last year that the documents appear authentic. German and French officials consider the information troubling, sources said, but Russian experts have dismissed it as inconclusive. IAEA inspectors, who were highly skeptical of U.S. intelligence on Iraq, have begun to pursue aspects of the laptop information that appear to bolster previous leads.
"There is always a chance this could be the biggest scam perpetrated on U.S. intelligence," one U.S. source acknowledged. "But it’s such a large body of documents and such strong indications of nuclear weapons intent, and nothing seems so inconsistent."
Bush administration officials, convinced that Iran has a weapons program, believe that the body of documentation is the nearest anyone can expect to "smoking gun" evidence. But even in the U.S. government, the predominant interpretation is more complex. And any step toward uranium enrichment, experts said, is consistent with three competing explanations — that Iran’s program is peaceful, that it aims for a weapon, or that the Tehran government is still keeping its options open.
A presidential commission found in 2004 that U.S. intelligence knows "disturbingly little" about Tehran’s capabilities. And at a congressional hearing last Thursday, Director of National Intelligence John D. Negroponte described Iran as a "hard target" to penetrate.
Scott Ritter had chimed in on the laptop…
Scott Ritter, the former US military intelligence officer who was chief United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq from 1991 to 1998, noted in an interview that the CIA has the capability to check the authenticity of laptop documents through forensic tests that would reveal when different versions of different documents were created.
The fact that the agency could not rule out the possibility of fabrication, according to Ritter, indicates that it had either chosen not to do such tests or that the tests had revealed fraud.
Who does our Intel Community really work for…? ‘We the People’ or Rupert Murdoch…? I mean really…? Similar to our ‘bang for the buck’ ratio in Health care… We’re sorely under served by our Intelligence Apparatchik…!
Let saner voices prevail…
ACT: As you know, the commission’s report ( the WMD Commission ’06) is being released when much of the international community is concerned about Iran’s nuclear program. What would Iran need to do to prove to you that its nuclear program is not intended to produce weapons?
Hans Blix: This is my view: I think it would be very difficult for Iran under current circumstances, even for a long period of time, to prove that they have no intentions [to pursue nuclear weapons]. How do you prove that you have no intentions? I don’t think any amount of IAEA inspection will tell the world, “Ah, there’s nothing, so they can go ahead with enrichment.” As in the case of Iraq, we saw that the Iraqis tried to assert [that they did not have weapons of mass destruction] and we said, “Well, there’s things unaccounted for. We can’t exclude it.” So, that will be hard.
I’m somewhat critical about the tendency in many places to talk about the Iranian nuclear weapons program as if it were proven. Don’t we have sufficient experience in the Iraq affair to be a little cautious about that? But I don’t at all exclude it. Iran is much further ahead in its nuclear program than Iraq was. They have infrastructure, they have people, they have money, et cetera. Iraq was a scrapheap in 2003. Nevertheless, some of the circumstantial evidence [in Iran] is perhaps more suggestive. You talk about the many years in which they breached their obligations on the safeguards agreement. Well, that could be because they had an intention to go for nuclear weapons, but it could also be because they were worried about counterproliferation, that they would reveal where sites were and they could be subject to sabotage. I don’t interpret, but I’m saying don’t jump to conclusions. In fact, when we put someone before a court, we like to have evidence before we give them a severe sentence. Shall we be more easygoing when it comes to sentencing states to bombardment or war? A little caution in this respect is desirable.
Now, on the Iranian side, I think it’s a weak argument when they say they need to have self-reliance, they have the right and must use that right. No, you can have rights without making use of them. There’s also no economic interest in it for them. They have two nuclear power plants. My country, Sweden, has 10, and we are importing uranium. The [Iranian nuclear] establishment will work on a 40-megawatt heavy-water reactor—that’s an excellent plutonium producer. Now, that may suggest there is an intention behind it, but there are other countries in the world that have heavy-water reactors, so it is not conclusive. Yet, the commission comes to the conclusion that it would be desirable that Iran suspend or renounce enrichment for a prolonged period of time because [enrichment] will increase tension. We come to that conclusion, and then we suggest that if you want to take a country away from its potential interest in nuclear weapons, you have to look at its incentives [to acquire nuclear weapons]. We think that security is one of them, as in the case of North Korea. Security has been missing from the packages that have been put on the table [to Iran] so far.
We have put forward another suggestion that we haven’t seen elsewhere, which was inspired by the Korean case. We suggest that you might have a region that renounces or suspends the use of enrichment or reprocessing. In the Korean case, it is established in the 1992 declaration. In the Middle East case, what we are suggesting is, as a confidence-building measure, Iran and other countries in the Middle East renounce this. That would mean, in the case of Israel, that it would do away with or renounce reprocessing. It doesn’t affect their weapons program—that would not be at all plausible—but you could imagine having commitments from all the countries, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, et cetera, to not go for any enrichment or reprocessing.
How do you prove a negative…?
Here’s another sane voice…
The Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran Crowd Is Getting All Riled up Again
Apparently even Saudi Arabia is on board with the idea of an Israeli strike on Iran.
Brazil, just like Iran, is a signatory of the NPT. Just like Iran, it is enriching uranium. Just like Iran, it does not allow unlimited, invasive IAEA inspections. And just like Iran, it has in the past kept some aspects of its nuclear technology "secret".
Brazil enriches uranium to less than 5%, as part of its $1 billion nuclear industry, which will invest on seven new atomic plants to diversify the country’s consumption of oil and hydroelectric power. Brazil plans to start exporting enriched uranium before 2014. Brazilian centrifuges could be used to produce highly enriched uranium. But that’s a matter of political will. The letter of the Brazilian constitution effectively forbids the building of nuclear weapons.
In Iran the situation is actually similar. Both the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, and current Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei have made it very clear that nuclear weapons are against Islam.
Obviously, the US State Department will always dismiss any comparisons between Tehran and Brasilia. After all, Brazil is a Western-style democracy and Iran is now, after the last presidential elections, a military dictatorship of the mullahtariat. Brazil may be a natural leader in South America, but it’s not threatening anybody; while Iran, a regional leader, threatens Israel’s "secret" nuclear hegemony in the Middle East. But in both Iran’s and Brazil’s case, the heart of the matter is the same: running a successful nuclear program is, above all, a question of national pride.
Sanctions cannot possibly work. And once again the current hysteria glaringly shows how, when it comes to Iran, double standards rule.
Iran is self-imploding… We do not need to rally the Iranian populace behind Ahminejad…! Remember Saddam’s attempts…!!!
Something is profoundly rotten in the so-called "international community" kingdom — minus Russia and China, by the way — when it lets global policy be determined by someone like Netanyahu. Or Murdoch…!
Cross posted at Relaxed Politics