News you may have missed #416 (Iran edition)

  • Israel not to attack Iran in 2011, say US sources. The Obama administration, citing evidence of continued troubles inside Iran’s nuclear program, has persuaded Israel that it would take roughly a year for Iran to complete a “dash” for a nuclear weapon. US officials say the assessment has dimmed the prospect that Israel would pre-emptively strike Iran within the next year.
  • Iran launches first spy drone. Iran has launched a domestically made long-range high-altitude drone, called Karrar, according to state media. Hamed Saeedi, managing director of Farnas Aerospace Company, which is in charge of the project, said plans are under way to produce additional drones and unmanned choppers.
  • Iranian tried for espionage collapses in Armenian court. Behnam Bagheri, an Iranian citizen being tried in Armenia on charges of spying for Azerbaijan, collapsed in court in Yerevan on August 19 while delivering his defense speech, according to reports. In a similar case in October of 2009, Armenia charged one of its own officers with spying for Azerbaijan.

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News you may have missed #0164

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News you may have missed #0153

  • More on Nozette’s 2009 mystery trip abroad. The affidavit of Stewart David Nozette, who was arrested last Monday for attempting to sell classified US government information to an undercover FBI agent, reveals that “[o]n or about January 6, 2009, [the scientist] traveled to a different foreign country”, carrying with him two thumb drives, which he failed to bring back with him. Where did he go, and why?
  • Armenia charges former army officer with spying for Azerbaijan. Armenian Army officer Gevorg Airapetian and a “foreign national” were arrested in a “special operation” by Armenian authorities earlier this week, and charged with spying for Azerbaijan. Some suspect Russian involvement, believing the Azerbaijanis to have acted as intermediaries between Airapetian and Moscow.
  • US spy chief Blair calls for spy cooperation. Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Dennis Blair called Wednesday for a better-coordinated effort within the US intelligence community. But he said nothing about recent reports that intelligence officials shut down a Web-based unclassified e-mail system, which had been heralded as an important step in information sharing between members of the US intelligence community.

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Israel, Azerbaijan, tight-lipped on rumored reconnaissance deal

Ilham Aliyev

Ilham Aliyev

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
The Israeli and Azerbaijani governments are apparently keeping quiet about rumored plans to jointly manufacture unmanned drone aircraft and spy satellites. Representatives of Israel’s reconnaissance and aeronautics industry were among dozens of Israeli business leaders who joined last June’s state visit to Azerbaijan by Isarel’s President Shimon Peres. It was the first-ever visit to the Caspian Sea state by an Israeli head of state. Soon after the end of the visit, there were rumors in the Israeli press that Tel Aviv had managed to convince Azerbaijan’s President, Ilham Aliyev, after four years of negotiations, to approve the construction of a manufacturing plant in Azerbaijan that will construct unmanned drone surveillance aircraft. Moreover, Israel was said to have agreed to help Azerbaijan construct a TecSAR all-weather satellite reconnaissance system. Azerbaijan, which borders with Russia, Iran, Armenia and Georgia, is one of the few predominantly Muslim countries that maintain bilateral relations with Israel.

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News you may have missed #0007

  • German counterintelligence chief accuses Russia of commercial spying. Burkhard Even, Germany’s director of counterintelligence at the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, has told German newspaper Die Welt am Sonntag that Russian spies have intensified espionage operations on the German energy sector to help Russian firms gain commercial advantages. On May 26, intelNews reported on similar accusations by the German Association for Security in Industry and Commerce (ASW). Its director told Mitteldeutsche Zeitung that the targeting of German research and commercial enterprises by mainly Chinese and Russian agents is so extensive that it usually costs the German economy over €20 billion per year, and it may be costing as high as €50 billion per year since 2007.
  • Spanish intelligence agents kicked out of Cuba. Spanish newspaper ABC reports that the recently expelled officers of Spain’s National Intelligence Centre (CNI) were secretly recorded at Havana cocktail parties “making derogatory comments about the Castro brothers and other [Cuban] government officials”. 
  • Proposed US bill would boost congressional oversight of covert spy programs. Key lawmakers in Washington have endorsed a proposed bill that would force the president to make fuller disclosure of covert spy programs. The legislation, which has already been approved by the House Intelligence Committee, would force the president to disclose classified operations to all members of Congress’ intelligence oversight panels. 
  • Report claims CIA, Mossad scoring points against Hezbollah. A new report claims American and Israeli intelligence organizations have scored notable recent successes against Hezbollah, in places such as Azerbaijan, Egypt and Colombia.