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Amiri Told CIA Iran Has No Nuclear Bomb Programme

by GARETH PORTER

19 Jul 2010 22:446 Comments
photo_1270545698504-1-0.jpgIPS | Contrary to a news media narrative that Iranian scientist Shahram Amiri has provided intelligence on covert Iranian nuclear weapons work, CIA sources familiar with the Amiri case say he told his CIA handlers that there is no such Iranian nuclear weapons programme, according to a former CIA officer.

Philip Giraldi, a former CIA counterterrorism official, told IPS that his sources are CIA officials with direct knowledge of the entire Amiri operation.

The CIA contacts say that Amiri had been reporting to the CIA for some time before being brought to the U.S. during Hajj last year, Giraldi told IPS, initially using satellite-based communication. But the contacts also say Amiri was a radiation safety specialist who was "absolutely peripheral" to Iran's nuclear programme, according to Giraldi.

Amiri provided "almost no information" about Iran's nuclear programme, said Giraldi, but had picked up "scuttlebutt" from other nuclear scientists with whom he was acquainted that the Iranians have no active nuclear weapon programme.

Giraldi said information from Amiri's debriefings was only a minor contribution to the intelligence community's reaffirmation in the latest assessment of Iran's nuclear programme of the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE)'s finding that work on a nuclear weapon has not been resumed after being halted in 2003.

Amiri's confirmation is cited in one or more footnotes to the new intelligence assessment of Iran's nuclear programme, called a "Memorandum to Holders", according to Giraldi, but it is now being reviewed, in light of Amiri's "re- defection" to Iran.

An intelligence source who has read the "Memorandum to Holders" in draft form confirmed to IPS that it presents no clear-cut departure from the 2007 NIE on the question of weaponisation. The developments in the Iranian nuclear programme since the 2007 judgment are portrayed as "subtle and complex", said the source.

CIA officials are doing their best to "burn" Amiri by characterising him as a valuable long-term intelligence asset, according to Giraldi, in part in order to sow as much distrust of him among Iranian intelligence officials as possible.

But Giraldi said it is "largely a defence mechanism" to ward off criticism of the agency for its handling of the Amiri case.

"The fact is he wasn't well vetted," said Giraldi, adding that Amiri was a "walk- in" about whom virtually nothing was known except his job. Click on link above to continue reading the article.

Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist specializing 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.

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6 Comments

It is now pretty clear to everyone following this story that Amiri was peripheral to the program and so did not have much to offer and that the exposure of CIA expenditures on him are, alternately, an attempt to burn Amiri or the CIA practicing CYA is also not very spectacular.
As someone who follows Giraldi and Porter, both of whom have taken a dismissive attitude towards the issue of Iranian weaponization of its nuclear program, it is interesting to see that Giraldi now cites a source saying that, "The developments in the Iranian nuclear programme since the 2007 judgment are portrayed as "subtle and complex"" and saying that this does not range far from the previous NIE (which Giraldi and Porter hold in high esteem). This seems like a departure for them.
Porter does a nice job showing up the early media hype around Amiri. The hawks seem to think they could make use of him. But that story pretty much collapsed on its own. For me, the biggest shock is that the Washington Post still quotes the PMOI (the People's Mojahedin) cultists. I mean, why not quote Lyndon LaRouche about the Queen of England?
Giraldi and Porter can be followed on antiwar.com, where they post articles and are regularly interviewed on its podcast service.

Evan / July 20, 2010 12:01 AM

Ofcourse if this was written by an Iranian Journalist in Diaspora, it would have completely different take. A ridiculous one to be sure.

We still have to look at non-Iranian Jouranlist to find some residual signs of integrity.

Pouya / July 20, 2010 11:21 AM

You be the judge.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TEgsYKQRmKg

Niloofar / July 20, 2010 10:39 PM

I am just surprised why the U.S allowed this guy to walk away and go to Iran. We probably will never be able to get to the bottom of this story. Either side is going to throw as much distraction at media and people to cover up their mess and probably some sensitive parts of the story that might be used against them.
Meanwhile Iran is going to make a movie out of this who shenanigan and already has started spitting out all this bizarre stories of Amiri being their implant in the CIA operation for some time now and that they have been able to gain so much info and insight into CIA inner plans about Iran. This kind of stories would have an audience in Iran and perhaps for some others in other corners of world but the question is why CIA should allow this opportunity to Iranian propaganda machine . Why they could not keep that guy in the shade for some time, or even forever. After all that is what Iranian would probably do, in a similar case, like the missed FBI agent in kish.

PersianTraveler / July 21, 2010 11:08 PM

Is there anybody can aswer my one easy question, How come that Israel may have their own nuclear but not Iran ? By the way thanks for the fairness respond.

Ajie / July 22, 2010 11:55 AM

Ajie:

Why Israel gets a bomb:

1.) Israel seeks to defend a democracy. Israeli state rhetoric does not threaten anyone except its jihadist neighbors. Israel does not threaten or scare its powerful Western allies.

2.) Millions of Jews were killed a only a generation ago for nothing other than that they were Jews at the wrong time, in the wrong place.
This collective memory is quite strong in Israel.

3.) The more people around the world propose an end to the Jewish state as a solution to Palestinian woes, the more Israelis receive that message as a dire threat.


Why Iran does not get a bomb:

1.) Israel has one already. Iranian state rhetoric scares the hell out of people in the West.

2.) Iran's mullahcracy acts like a facist theocracy while ignoring all accepted international human rights conventions.

3.) The repression, incarceration and torture in Iran after the June 12 elections tends to convince policy makers in the West that Iran really should not be trusted with nuclear weapons.

koochooloo1 / July 22, 2010 8:11 PM