Now Playing: Analysis finds holes in US Iran story: US may have pretended to know about facility
Analysis finds holes in US Iran story:
US may have pretended to know about facility
Wednesday, September 30th, 2009 -- 7:25 am
The story line that dominated media coverage of the second Iranian uranium enrichment facility last week was the official assertion that U.S. intelligence had caught Iran trying to conceal a "secret" nuclear facility.
But an analysis of the transcript of that briefing by senior administration officials that was the sole basis for the news stories and other evidence reveals damaging admissions, conflicts with the facts and unanswered questions that undermine its credibility.
Iran's notification to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of the second enrichment facility in a letter on Sep. 21 was buried deep in most of the news stories and explained as a response to being detected by U.S. intelligence. In reporting the story in that way, journalists were relying entirely on the testimony of "senior administration officials" who briefed them at the G20 summit in Pittsburgh Friday.
U.S. intelligence had "learned that the Iranians learned that the secrecy of the facility was compromised", one of the officials said, according to the White House transcript. The Iranians had informed the IAEA, he asserted, because "they came to believe that the value of the facility as a secret facility was no longer valid..."Later in the briefing, however, the official said "we believe", rather than "we learned", in referring to that claim, indicating that it is only an inference rather than being based on hard intelligence.
The official refused to explain how U.S. analysts had arrived at that conclusion, but an analysis by the defence intelligence consulting firm IHS Jane's of a satellite photo of the site taken Saturday said there is a surface-to-air missile system located at the site.
Since surface-to-air missiles protect many Iranian military sites, however, their presence at the Qom site doesn't necessarily mean that Iran believed that Washington had just discovered the enrichment plant.
The official said the administration had organised an intelligence briefing on the facility for the IAEA during the summer on the assumption that the Iranians might "choose to disclose the facility themselves". But he offered no explanation for the fact that there had been no briefing given to the IAEA or anyone else until Sep. 24 - three days after the Iranians disclosed the existence of the facility.
A major question surrounding the official story is why the Barack Obama administration had not done anything – and apparently had no plans to do anything - with its intelligence on the Iranian facility at Qom prior to the Iranian letter to the IAEA. When asked whether the administration had intended to keep the information in its intelligence briefing secret even after the meeting with the Iranians on Oct. 1, the senior official answered obliquely but revealingly, "I think it's impossible to turn back the clock and say what might have been otherwise."In effect, the answer was no, there had been no plan for briefing the IAEA or anyone.
News media played up the statement by the senior administration official that U.S. intelligence had been "aware of this facility for years".
But what was not reported was that he meant only that the U.S. was aware of a possible nuclear site, not one whose function was known.
The official in question acknowledged the analysts had not been able to identify it as an enrichment facility for a long time. In the "very early stage of construction," said the official, "a facility like this could have multiple uses." Intelligence analysts had to "wait until the facility had reached the stage of construction where it was undeniably intended for use as a centrifuge facility," he explained.
The fact that the administration had made no move to brief the IAEA or other governments on the site before Iran revealed its existence suggests that site had not yet reached that stage where the evidence was unambiguous.A former U.S. official who has seen the summary of the administration's intelligence used to brief foreign governments told IPS he doubts the intelligence community had hard evidence that the Qom site was an enrichment plant. "I think they didn't have the goods on them," he said.
Also misleading was the official briefing's characterisation of the intelligence assessment on the purpose of the enrichment plant. The briefing concluded that the Qom facility must be for production of weapons-grade enriched uranium, because it will accommodate only 3,000 centrifuges, which would be too few to provide fuel for a nuclear power plant.
According to the former U.S. official who has read the briefing paper on the intelligence assessment, however, the paper says explicitly that the Qom facility is "a possible military facility". That language indicates that intelligence analysts have suggested that the facility may be for making low-enriched rather than for high-enriched, bomb-grade uranium.It also implies that the senior administration official briefing the press was deliberately portraying the new enrichment facility in more menacing terms than the actual intelligence assessment.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's offer the day after the denunciation of the site by U.S., British and French leaders to allow IAEA monitoring of the plant will make it far more difficult to argue that it was meant to serve military purposes.
The circumstantial evidence suggests that Iran never intended to keep the Qom facility secret from the IAEA but was waiting to make it public at a moment that served its political-diplomatic objectives.
The Iranian government is well aware of U.S. capabilities for monitoring from satellite photographs any site in Iran that exhibits certain characteristics.
Iran obviously wanted to make the existence of the Qom site public before construction on the site would clearly indicate an enrichment purpose. But it gave the IAEA no details in its initial announcement, evidently hoping to find out whether and how much the United States already knew about it.
The specific timing of the Iranian letter, however, appears to be related to the upcoming talks between Iran and the P5+1 - China, France, Britain, Russia, the United States and Germany - and an emerging Iranian strategy of smaller back-up nuclear facilities that would assure continuity if Natanz were attacked.
The Iranian announcement of that decision on Sep. 14 coincided with a statement by the head of Iran's atomic energy organisation, Ali Akbar Salehi, warning against preemptive strikes against the country's nuclear facilities.
The day after the United States, Britain and France denounced the Qom facility as part of a deception, Salehi said, "Considering the threats, our organisation decided to do what is necessary to preserve and continue our nuclear activities. So we decided to build new installations which will guarantee the continuation of our nuclear activities which will never stop at any cost."
As satellite photos of the site show, the enrichment facility at Qom is being built into the side of a mountain, making it less vulnerable to destruction, even with the latest bunker-busting U.S. bombs.
The pro-administration newspaper Kayhan quoted an "informed official" as saying that Iran had told the IAEA in 2004 that it had to do something about the threat of attack on its nuclear facilities "repeatedly posed by the western countries".
The government newspaper called the existence of the second uranium enrichment plan "a winning card" that would increase Iran's bargaining power in the talks. That presumably referred to neutralising the ultimate coercive threat against Iran by the United States.
* Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist specialising in U.S. national security policy. The paperback edition of his latest book, "Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam", was published in 2006.Originally published by Inter Press Service.
with technology stolen from the usa?????OH YEA, ISRAEL, THE APARTHEID LAND GRABBING,LYING, SPYING,SHIT DISTURBING FUCKS!
Likely there wouldn't even have been a revolution, had we not twisted their political system according to our own whims (a.k.a. lust for petroleum).
And isn't self-defense a recognized right of anyone on the planet--person or nation? If I had a psycho neighbor like Israel, I'd want nukes too. Besides...who the hell will stand up and say it's our right just 'cause we're the USA, but not Iran's. And let's not forget that Iran IS under constant threat from Israel and the US for doing the exact same things we've done and/or are doing.
We, the USA, wants to negotiate on the international stage from a position of strength, security, and what we want to think is morality. I bet Iran, and her people, want the same thing. Guess what? They can't. They can only negotiate right now from a standpoint of fear and paranoia. If we were in the same position, you can bet your bottom dollar we'd literally move mountains (like Iran is doing) to get nukes. It's understandable to a six-year-old.
If we want no nukes, let's lead by example, like any good commander must assuredly do. Leadership is done by LEADING. Enough of "do as I say, not as I do."
If the USA grew a set of nads about Israel, maybe other nations would feel a little more respect, and a little less fear. Maybe they wouldn't NEED nukes. I don't like Ahmedinijad any more than I liked GW Bush. But he's correct that nuke energy is the right of every nation. We have no right to browbeat them into doing things we, ourselves, will not do.
I think the CIA has fucked this situation up for us for longer than anyone alive remembers. Why do we believe the CIA at all? They are, if I'm not mistaken, professional liars. Hey! Here's an unusual idea: why don't we scrap the CIA altogether. And then we could begin, oh, I don't know...telling the truth, treating other nations even-handedly, and not accepting lies from our "allies" any more than we accept lies from our "enemies".
A part of that honesty would be to say, "you know, we're only interested in 1)oil, and 2)not being attacked...and Israel has no oil." It'd rather change the equation, don't you think?
If we'd not made religious whackos out of Iran, they'd have probably been pretty good friends and allies. Because of large corporations and the CIA, it'll be a long, long time before they're either.
Just my two cents.
I see a few positive things happening toward your view.
-The US is finally openly talking to Iran. Finally.
-The coverage of their election plight, I think, did a lot more to help Americans understand Iranians and feel more connected. I think Americans secretly wish they were allowed to protest like the Iranians did. Sure, didn't end so well there, but here? Same protests would have been much, much worse, much sloppier.
-The clincher- who currently controls the airspace between Israel and Iran? The only direct flight of missiles or fighters is either across an unwilling Arab country or Iraq. The US is right in the middle and would have to be complicit in a preemptive Israeli attack. My opinion, that ain't gonna happen. We're sick of war.
We've been brainwashed into thinking it's still allowed and we're "free" to do it, but deep down people know the various local govt's won't let them until their "group" has been fully vetted.
Tried to protest spontaneously lately? I dare ya!
They look at it now like you should have a permit; the lack of one is reason enough to make you disperse. On TV, they report lack of permit, show a little fake violence or the one person who's throwing something or acting wildly, and the viewers agree it should be broken up.
If I want to protest the government, why would I want to get a permit from it to do so?
This is why I say Americans are developing an admiration for Iranians. They want freedom, like we do, and they still have the drive to make it happen.
- Thomas Jefferson
Seems Senator David "Shitter" Vitter has the balls to take on the made-up ACORN scandal. Really. A guy made this great video slamming the "Shitter." Watch the video, rate it(we want it on the most viewed list), then make the call. Post the video to your facebook so all your friends will call and bug the "crap" out of them.
Years and years
"impossible to turn back the clock "
No accountability for Government
No justice for Government
It all begins as a pretext, covering up for the true reason; ask any Vietnamese and they will tell you what their war with America was really about, OIL! (there are huge reserves of oil off its coast) It eventually ends in dictatorship however and whether or not the gambit is itself successful, the population shall fall into the hands of people brutal enough to maintain it. Yet invariably, it isn't because of the brutality perpetrated against its people or even its form of governance, that cause America's geo-political interests and supporters to hate the current regime in Iran. Its because they have been told NO! We need not look far for similar examples of American duplicity expressed elsewhere in the region, where most leaders have said YES, and where exists a general inability of the people there as well as in Iran, to effectively throw out these thugs and dictators.
In all, it is the usurpation and at times, the downright theft of the natural resources of those who are perceived to be weak and therefore unable to defend themselves, which is at the heart of this game that America plays around the world. Unless that is, like the Israelis and N Koreans have found, you make everyone believe you are bat shit crazy enough and willing to use nuclear weapons, real or not, to protect your country; such deception is better known as black mail, and countries like Iran, Burma and other incipient nuclear manipulators will be added to a growing list of counties, actually all of them, who are willing to use the bomb in this way.
Get this, 3 years ago, Germany developed one of the most advanced submarines,with mechanics to accomdate nukes. Between 6 to 7 were GIVEN to Israel.Just like Saudia Arabia--19 terrorist attackers 911,even though it was Made in USA self attack,the Saudias didn't demand a proper investigation. What gives? Are Jews that poerfull or money talks kosher. No wonder Jewish money is called Shackles :^/
Can we leave "jews" out of it? This has zero to do with judaism, but a hell of a lot to do with unprincipled power, and paranoia, and fear. Of course, many, many people, of all nations, and of just about all cultures, justify their untenable wants and practices by reference to their imaginary friends.
Oftentimes, however, there are no justifications to be found in those belief systems save the ones spun up by people claiming to be adherents to those belief systems. Jews do not, in particular, have a corner on that market.
I find no credibility in ascribing lawful or moral authority to any of them.
FYI:^) Jews control Washington establishment, all major media Video/Print/publishing, Hollywood, militray Industry complex, Banking Money System, Stock exchanges, Major recycling,Food processing plants, Hotel chains, Resorts and they own you to fight their dirty wars.
Hard to forget USS LIBERTY KILLINGS and COVER-UP by the Jews.I guess , in your silly rants would put the blame on Arabs.
It is well known,that the 4 War Crimimials of WWII, where Stalin, Churchill,Roosevelt, Hitler and all from Jewish bloodlines. Only Hitler kept his real Jewish name. Over 60 million died for the creation of Israel--- and yet they again got away with pulling off 911 attacks.
Really sucks,Big Time, in how stupid slaves think!
- Mr. Neutron
So far, it is just an empty building inside a mountain, therefore Iran was not required, by the NNPT (Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, you know, the Treaty that all civilized countries have signed)(not Israel) to report this empty building until a certain amount of time before occupation.
Iran claims that it is not bound by the revised Code 3.1 of its Subsidiary Arrangement with the IAEA and, therefore, they need to announce new facilities only 180 days before nuclear material enters the site and material will not be introduced for at least 6 months as of last Monday, when Iran sent the letter to the IAEA.
The U.S. and Israel *HATE IT* when Iran abides by the NNPT, obeying it to the letter. That's why they are trying to use the UN Security Council to "punish" Iran, because the IAEA cannot do anything to a country that is perfectly compliant with the NNPT. Unfortunately for the bullies, China and Russia have a Veto to their illegal sanctions - the U.S. can only bribe them with economic carrots for so long, and now the U.S. is economically weaker than ever...
Fact that no treaty or agreement seems to be of any interest to US, UK, Isreal, begs the question why the rest of the world is not withdrawing from all the treaties, and get on with their own versions thereof as in the case of the vociferous trio.