US Iran intelligence ‘is incorrect’
Julian Borger in Vienna
Thursday February 22, 2007
Much of the intelligence on Iran’s nuclear facilities provided to UN inspectors by US spy agencies has turned out to be unfounded, diplomatic sources in Vienna said today.
The claims, reminiscent of the intelligence fiasco surrounding the Iraq war, coincided with a sharp increase in international tension as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported that Iran was defying a UN security council ultimatum to freeze its nuclear programme.
That report, delivered to the security council by the IAEA director general, Mohammed ElBaradei, sets the stage for a fierce international debate on the imposition of stricter sanctions on Iran and raises the possibility that the US could resort to military action against Iranian nuclear sites.
At the heart of the debate are accusations – spearheaded by the US – that Iran is secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons.
However, most of the tip-offs about supposed secret weapons sites provided by the CIA and other US intelligence agencies have led to dead ends when investigated by IAEA inspectors, according to informed sources in Vienna.
“Most of it has turned out to be incorrect,” a diplomat at the IAEA with detailed knowledge of the agency’s investigations said.
“They gave us a paper with a list of sites. [The inspectors] did some follow-up, they went to some military sites, but there was no sign of [banned nuclear] activities.
“Now [the inspectors] don’t go in blindly. Only if it passes a credibility test.”
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