Iranian nuclear reactor
Photo: AP

Report: UK spy chiefs believe Iran 'deceived' CIA over nuclear program

Sunday Telegraph report says British intelligence has serious doubts that Tehran has shelved nuclear weapons program. 'Iranian nuclear staff, knowing their phones were tapped, deliberately gave misinformation; they will say anything to throw us off,' UK official quoted as saying

The UK-based Sunday Telegraph reported that British spy chiefs have serious doubts that Iran has shelved its nuclear weapons program, as a US intelligence report claimed last week, and believe the CIA has been deceived by Tehran.


According to the report, "the timing of the CIA report has also provoked fury in the British Government, where officials believe it has undermined efforts to impose tough new sanctions on Iran and made an Israeli attack on its nuclear facilities more likely.


"The security services in London want concrete evidence to allay concerns that the Islamic state has fed disinformation to the CIA," the Sunday Telegraph said.


The US intelligence report, according to the British newspaper, used human sources, wireless intercepts and evidence from an Iranian defector - to conclude that Iran suspended the military aspect of its nuclear programs in 2003.


However, the Sunday Telegraph added that "British intelligence is concerned that US spy chiefs were so determined to avoid giving President Bush a reason to go to war - as their reports on Saddam Hussein's weapons programs did in Iraq - that they got it wrong this time."


The newspaper quoted a senior UK official as saying that British spies shared the concerns of Israeli defense chiefs that Iran was still pursuing nuclear weapons.


'Military action last resort'

According to him, British analysts believed that Iranian nuclear staff, knowing their phones were tapped, deliberately gave misinformation.


"We are skeptical. We want to know what the basis of it is, where did it come from? Was it on the basis of the defector? Was it on the basis of the intercept material? They say things on the phone because they know we are up on the phones. They say black is white. They will say anything to throw us off," the Sunday Telegraph quoted the British official as saying.


"It's not as if the American intelligence agencies are regarded as brilliant performers in that region. They got badly burned over Iraq."


According to the report, a US intelligence source revealed that some American intelligence personnel share the concerns of the British and the Israelis.


"Many middle- ranking CIA veterans believe Iran is still committed to producing nuclear weapons and are concerned that the agency lost a number of its best sources in Iran in 2004," the official was quoted by the Sunday Telegraph as saying.


Ephraim Sneh, until recently Israel's deputy minister of defense, told the Sunday Telegraph that military action would be the only option if the world community did not impose tough sanctions on Iran.


"No one can rule out with high confidence that somewhere in Iran, 70 times the size of Israel, there is one lab working on the weapons program," Sneh told the UK newspaper.


"(Military action) is not a desired option; it is a last resort. That's why sanctions are so important. We have to urge the international community to be serious about sanctions and to take necessary measures to defend the civilian population."


פרסום ראשון: 12.09.07, 08:30
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