Iran nuke scientist defects to US

A very nice intel coup for the CIA as they have coaxed an Iranian scientist to defect. It happened last year while the scientist, Shahram Amiri, was on a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.

What does he know about the Iranian nuke program? He worked at a University that was closely associated with the program but probably was not in the loop about specifics of the bomb. The Iranian program is apparently very compartmentalized and especially for scientists only peripherally involved, it would appear that Amiri couldn't deliver a smoking gun of proof for an Iranian nuke.

But he is certainly valuable in other ways as Matthew Cole of ABC reports:

Amiri has been extensively debriefed since his defection by the CIA, according to the people briefed on the situation. They say Amiri helped to confirm U.S. intelligence assessments about the Iranian nuclear program.

In September, President Barack Obama announced the U.S., the United Kingdom and France had evidence that Iran "has been building a covert uranium enrichment facility near Qom for several years."

One Iranian web site reported that Amiri had worked at the Qom facility prior to his defection.

The New York Times reported Saturday that international inspectors and Western intelligence agencies suspect "Tehran is preparing to build more sites in defiance of United Nations demands."

The Washington Times is reporting this morning that the CIA believes Iran already has the capability to build a bomb if they chose to do so. This was self evident after the Iranians announced they were going to enrich their uranium hex from 4% to 20%. If you can enrich to 20% you can certainly enrich to the 85-90% level necessary to build a bomb. 

The Iranian's problem is trying to keep that extra enrichment secret, which is where these other off the books sites come into play. And since the CIA thinks they already have the capability, that means the spooks think that Iran has a workable bomb design - possibly supplied by Pakistan's nuclear black marketeer A.Q. Khan. 

Word is that the US is putting enormous pressure on Israel not to attack while the Israelis inch closer to a decision. A betting man might lay odds 3-1 against an attack but the smart money will be on Bibi biting the bullet and going in.

Hat Tip: Larrey Anderson