IAEA May Review Intelligence on Iran Case

IAEA May Review Intelligence on Iran CaseIAEA May Review Intelligence on Iran Case

Details of a 15-year-old Central Intelligence Agency sting emerging from a court case in the US may prompt United Nations monitors to reassess some evidence related to Iran's alleged efforts to develop the capability to build nuclear weapons, two western diplomats said.

International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors in Vienna will probably review intelligence they received about Iran as a result of the revelations, said the two diplomats who are familiar with the IAEA's Iran file and asked not to be named because the details are confidential, Bloomberg reported on Friday.

The CIA passed doctored blueprints for nuclear-weapon components to Iran in February 2000, trial documents have shown.

"This story suggests a possibility that hostile intelligence agencies could decide to plant a 'smoking gun' in Iran for the IAEA to find," said Peter Jenkins, the former UK envoy to the Vienna-based agency. "That looks like a big problem."

The UN nuclear agency is investigating into what it calls possible military dimensions to Tehran's nuclear program and its ruling may determine whether international sanctions against the country are lifted under a nuclear deal with the major powers. While Iranian officials have consistently accused the IAEA of basing its case on forged documents, the agency has never acknowledged receiving tampered evidence.

Iran denies its nuclear activities may have any military objectives, saying the work is solely for peaceful applications, including electricity generation.

A spokesman for the IAEA said the agency carries out a thorough assessment of the information it receives.

  Political Agendas

The CIA documents were filed as evidence to an Alexandria, Virginia court on Jan. 14 for the trial of Jeffrey Sterling, who was convicted of leaking classified information about operations against Iran. Sterling worked on a CIA project aimed at misleading Iranian scientists by feeding modified designs for nuclear-weapons components to the country's IAEA mission in Austria.             

“The goal is to plant this substantial piece of deception information on the Iranian nuclear-weapons program, sending them down blind alleys, wasting their time and money,” according to a May 1997 cable submitted to the court.

The project remains relevant because elements of the IAEA’s suspicions about Iran rest on older information provided by intelligence agencies.

IAEA inspectors do not only rely on spy data, according to one of the diplomats, who pointed to the agency’s assessment of the Parchin military site where the IAEA claims Iran may have tested high explosives. Satellite imagery analysis and open-source data also play roles, the person said.

The CIA sting shows the kind of tactics that the US and its allies have used against Iran, according to Dan Joyner, a law professor at the University of Alabama. “The falsification of nuclear-related documents is a very real part of such states’ efforts to frustrate Iran’s nuclear program,” said Joyner, who has written extensively on nuclear proliferation risks. “This revelation highlights the dangers of reliance by the IAEA upon evidence concerning Iran provided to it by third party states whose political agendas are antithetical to Iran.”