Did Iran "Hoodwink" the CIA over its Nuke Program?

Rick Moran
It appears that British Intelligence officials are more skeptical of Iranian intentions with regard to their nuclear program than the CIA:

British spy chiefs have grave doubts that Iran has mothballed its nuclear weapons programme, as a US intelligence report claimed last week, and believe the CIA has been hoodwinked by Teheran.

The timing of the CIA report has also provoked fury in the British Government, where officials believe it has undermined efforts to impose tough new sanctions on Iran and made an Israeli attack on its nuclear facilities more likely. The security services in London want concrete evidence to allay concerns that the Islamic state has fed disinformation to the CIA.

The report used new evidence - including human sources, wireless intercepts and evidence from an Iranian defector - to conclude that Teheran suspended the bomb-making side of its nuclear programme in 2003. But British intelligence is concerned that US spy chiefs were so determined to avoid giving President Bush a reason to go to war - as their reports on Saddam Hussein's weapons programmes did in Iraq - that they got it wrong this time.
If true, this is an extraordinary story. In effect, British intelligence is accusing the CIA of playing political football with information about the Iranian nuclear program in order to keep George Bush from taking military action against the Iranians and not basing their conclusions on any factual evidence.

According to these sources, the Brits believe the Iranians carried out a disinformation campaign against US intelligence who they knew were listening in to their conversations:

The source said British analysts believed that Iranian nuclear staff, knowing their phones were tapped, deliberately gave misinformation.

"We are sceptical. We want to know what the basis of it is, where did it come from? Was it on the basis of the defector? Was it on the basis of the intercept material? They say things on the phone because they know we are up on the phones. They say black is white. They will say anything to throw us off.

"It's not as if the American intelligence agencies are regarded as brilliant performers in that region. They got badly burned over Iraq."

A US intelligence source has revealed that some American spies share the concerns of the British and the Israelis. "Many middle- ranking CIA veterans believe Iran is still committed to producing nuclear weapons and are concerned that the agency lost a number of its best sources in Iran in 2004," the official said.
What this all boils down to is that the new American NIE undercuts the sanctions regime so laboriously worked out with Great Britains assistance over the last two years. And given the Brits disbelief of the conclusions reached by the CIA, they are concerned that the next round of sanctions will be difficult if not impossible to enact in the Security Council.

In July when word of this startling conclusion by the CIA was going to be included in the NIE, the President sent word to the CIA to re-examine the evidence to make sure that Iran was not conducting some kind of disinformation campaign. In November, the CIA got back to the White House with word that they believed their conclusions were sound and based on real intelligence.

Who do we believe? At this point, it doesn't matter. The NIE conclusion that Iran is not engaged in building a nuclear bomb is out there and any attempt to change that will be seen as "twisting" intelligence to fit a prescribed policy. In this regard, if Administration opponents in the intelligence community deliberately overstated the intelligence about the halted Iranian nuclear program, they will have gotten their wish and destroyed the rationale not only for bombing, but for applying sanctions to the regime as well. It is highly unlikely that any investigation into the provenance of the NIE and its conclusions will change that singular fact to the rest of the world's satisfaction.

Meanwhile, we have cut the legs from underneath our British allies and the Israelis as well.


It appears that British Intelligence officials are more skeptical of Iranian intentions with regard to their nuclear program than the CIA:

British spy chiefs have grave doubts that Iran has mothballed its nuclear weapons programme, as a US intelligence report claimed last week, and believe the CIA has been hoodwinked by Teheran.

The timing of the CIA report has also provoked fury in the British Government, where officials believe it has undermined efforts to impose tough new sanctions on Iran and made an Israeli attack on its nuclear facilities more likely. The security services in London want concrete evidence to allay concerns that the Islamic state has fed disinformation to the CIA.

The report used new evidence - including human sources, wireless intercepts and evidence from an Iranian defector - to conclude that Teheran suspended the bomb-making side of its nuclear programme in 2003. But British intelligence is concerned that US spy chiefs were so determined to avoid giving President Bush a reason to go to war - as their reports on Saddam Hussein's weapons programmes did in Iraq - that they got it wrong this time.
If true, this is an extraordinary story. In effect, British intelligence is accusing the CIA of playing political football with information about the Iranian nuclear program in order to keep George Bush from taking military action against the Iranians and not basing their conclusions on any factual evidence.

According to these sources, the Brits believe the Iranians carried out a disinformation campaign against US intelligence who they knew were listening in to their conversations:

The source said British analysts believed that Iranian nuclear staff, knowing their phones were tapped, deliberately gave misinformation.

"We are sceptical. We want to know what the basis of it is, where did it come from? Was it on the basis of the defector? Was it on the basis of the intercept material? They say things on the phone because they know we are up on the phones. They say black is white. They will say anything to throw us off.

"It's not as if the American intelligence agencies are regarded as brilliant performers in that region. They got badly burned over Iraq."

A US intelligence source has revealed that some American spies share the concerns of the British and the Israelis. "Many middle- ranking CIA veterans believe Iran is still committed to producing nuclear weapons and are concerned that the agency lost a number of its best sources in Iran in 2004," the official said.
What this all boils down to is that the new American NIE undercuts the sanctions regime so laboriously worked out with Great Britains assistance over the last two years. And given the Brits disbelief of the conclusions reached by the CIA, they are concerned that the next round of sanctions will be difficult if not impossible to enact in the Security Council.

In July when word of this startling conclusion by the CIA was going to be included in the NIE, the President sent word to the CIA to re-examine the evidence to make sure that Iran was not conducting some kind of disinformation campaign. In November, the CIA got back to the White House with word that they believed their conclusions were sound and based on real intelligence.

Who do we believe? At this point, it doesn't matter. The NIE conclusion that Iran is not engaged in building a nuclear bomb is out there and any attempt to change that will be seen as "twisting" intelligence to fit a prescribed policy. In this regard, if Administration opponents in the intelligence community deliberately overstated the intelligence about the halted Iranian nuclear program, they will have gotten their wish and destroyed the rationale not only for bombing, but for applying sanctions to the regime as well. It is highly unlikely that any investigation into the provenance of the NIE and its conclusions will change that singular fact to the rest of the world's satisfaction.

Meanwhile, we have cut the legs from underneath our British allies and the Israelis as well.