American Strategy or Internal Differences?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A Review of the Aims and Repercussions of the US Intelligence Report  

Almost a week has passed since the publication of the US National Intelligence Council report on Iran, yet discussions on its aims and repercussions are still hot news at the world’s diplomatic centers.

In this regard, the officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran, after leaving behind their primary reactions of the first day are now looking for the hidden layers of the report’s real goals. The following report strives to mentions some of these points:

1.    The US National Intelligence Council is 35 years old and was established in the wake of the Vietnam War and the Watergate-I scandal for coordination among the American intelligence agencies whose number is not less than 16. The NIC has a political nature and, according to its directors, is not after sorting out intelligence findings but to spell out the changes and differences of outlooks at the organization by showing the factors of these differences. Of course, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) maintains its pivotal role among the agencies operating under NIC.

2.    The NIC is now managed by Mike McConnell and Thomas Fingar, both with long record in US espionage activities. The two have indisputable differences with Neocon hardliners, particularly Dick Cheney. Therefore, it is assumed that the publication of the Iran report has been prompted by the anti-war tendencies which has now become a main approach of the Democrats and even the clandestine opinion of the Pentagon and the State Department.

3.    The coordination between the Republicans and the Democrats on escalating pressures on Iran which has been underlined by Hillary Clinton on various occasions, and the preparation of the Iran report by the NIC upon the order of the US Congress shows that this action is a purposeful step by the opponents of military action against Iran with an aim to change the American strategy in the IRI nuclear dossier. In other words, the action is not positive and does not demonstrate goodwill.

4.    The go-ahead given by George Bush to publication of the report against attempts by Cheney to keep it unmentioned, as well as the welcome by Bush, Rice, Hardly and Gates of its contents shows that the White House has accepted a change of strategy in Iran’s nuclear case.

5.    The timing of publication of the report, namely immediately after the 5+1 agreement over the need to issue a new resolution against Tehran as well as the emphasis by the US, UK, France and Germany to this effect and also the refusal by China and Russia to oppose a third sanctions resolution coupled with their vague statements to please Tehran, all indicate that this change of the US strategy in Iran’s nuclear case not only does not aim at reducing the UN Security Council pressure but would probably lead to concentration of efforts in the opposite direction.

6.    It seems that out of the three options on the table concerning Iran's nuclear case, namely an Israeli attack, an American strike and international pressures, the first two options have been completely sidelined – at least in the short run and attention will be focused on the option of international pressure being exerted on Iran by the European Union and other international institutions. It also seems that contrary to the attack on Iraq which was designed based on secret information, this time the reliance is mainly on open information.

In this option, from the two main parts of Iran's nuclear case, including "diversion in the past" and "possible diversion in future", the second part is taken as the pivot and international efforts would focus on preventing possible diversion in the future. Under these circumstances unreliability of intelligence findings of espionage agencies would not affect the trend of increasing pressures against Iran and even IRI's continued peaceful nuclear activities in uranium enrichment could become a main excuse for "possible future diversion". The transparent recommendation of Russia and China to Iran in recent days urging Tehran to suspend uranium enrichment shows that the resistance of Iran's supporters would not last under these pressures.

7.    The emphasis that IRI's nuclear weapons program had been halted since 2003 – which is the most important axis of the (NIE) report - is at the same time its biggest lie. The truth is that no change occurred in IRI nuclear program in 2003. In fact the most important changes happened before 2000, namely in 1998-1999 when Gholamreza Aghazadeh had just taken over from Reza Amrollahi as the chief of Iran Atomic Energy Organization (IAEO) after eight years.
At that time, Iran's diverse and scattered nuclear activities which included various branches of nuclear technology were concentrated on fuel cycle operations. This project continued with construction activities in Natanz, Isfahan, and Ardakan till 2003 as well as simultaneous technical efforts to access fuel cycle technology.

At this juncture and before the US invasion of Iraq, information on parts of Iran construction activities was made available to the terrorist Mujahedin Khalq group to enable them launch a propaganda war against Iran to pressure the IRI and avert possible reactions to the attack on Iraq. In the meantime, the then government published the exaggerated report about Iran's access to peaceful nuclear technology and after that with the extensive presence of IAEA inspectors over the past four years there practically remains no ambiguous point about Iran's nuclear activities before 2003 which they accuse Iran of trying to conceal.

Therefore, the emphasis on the year 2003 which is considered the outset of the open nuclear activities (by Iran), shows that over the past four years, the US intelligence agencies had not obtained more information than their past exposures. And concerning the activities before 2003 too, except for some sporadic claims about Shian, Parchin and Karaj, published informally by the CIA, there are no new case.

8.    So, what is the US goal behind persisting that the IRI is seeking a nuclear weapons program? Certainly, it is very important for the United States to prove that the IRI wants to access the A-bomb. And the reason for that is the widespread legal consequences of such an action in depriving the IRI from access to nuclear fuel cycle which requires trust and guarantees that it would not lead to any diversion in the future.

So far, at least five instances of CIA attempts to sell documents and parts related to manufacture and assembly of A-bomb under the cover of arms dealers to agents of the IRI have been exposed, which were thwarted thanks to the vigilance and reluctance of the Iranian sides. Therefore, if the (NIE) report succeeds in accomplishing this important mission, a considerable part of the US goal to exert long-term pressures on the IRI and depriving it from access to the fuel cycle would be fulfilled.

9.    The fabric of intelligence reports which due to non-publication of their components and documentations cannot be separated and analyzed would cause that any judgment regarding their conclusion appear in the form of either "reliable" or "unreliable". If accepted, the main conclusion of this report which is "Iran's halt to its nuclear weapons program in 2003" would become the basis for past accusations. And in case of unreliability, it would not reduce the present ambiguities in Iran's nuclear dossier. Therefore, the acceptance of this report by international circles could also have harmful consequences for the country. The repeated emphasis by the IAEA director general that the report is consistent with the IAEA assessment paves the ground for future consequences.

10.    The reaction of the IRI vis-à-vis the new US strategy, irrespective of the hasty reactions shown in the early days, must assume a logical form and be designed and implemented intelligently in the face of the complications of the new strategy of America and its allies towards the IRI. At the same time, further cooperation with IAEA to neutralize the actions cited in the report and closer cooperation with Javier Solana to prevent the EU-3 from joining Washington in passing a third resolution, should be the most important priorities of Iran's nuclear diplomacy in the coming days.

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