German intelligence report sees US leading global energy contest

The Tengiz oil refinery in KazakhstanBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A leaked geopolitical study authored by German intelligence sees the United States as the primary beneficiary of the world’s drastically changing energy balance. The report, which was produced by the German Federal Intelligence Service (Bundesnach- richtendienst, or BND) was leaked to the Reuters news agency and accessed by Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. It sides with other recent estimates, notably by the International Energy Agency, which suggest that the domestic oil production of the United States might exceed that of Russia and Saudi Arabia by the year 2020. The BND estimates that, through the technique popularly known as fracking (using pressurized fluid to cause horizontal fractures on underground rock layers), the US will be able to exploit oil and natural gas reserves on its territory that were previously considered inaccessible. This could transform the US from the world’s largest energy importer of energy to a net exporter of both oil and natural gas. According to the report, such a massive transformation of the global energy import-export balance could have “particularly dramatic consequences” in the realm of international relations. Most crucially, it could transform the existing balance of power between the US and China. Specifically, German intelligence analysts forecast that, as the US becomes increasingly self-sufficient in energy, it will limit its import of oil and natural gas to its neighboring countries, namely Canada and Mexico. This could potentially lead the US to gradually disengage from the Middle East, allowing Washington’s foreign policy “increased freedom of action” vis-à-vis energy-rich Arab nations and Israel. At the same time, more Middle Eastern oil will find its way to China, as the Far-Eastern country will emerge as the world’s largest importer of energy. Read more of this post

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White House silent on rumors of ‘alarming’ info about Iran nukes

Ehud BarakBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The White House has refused comment on news from Israel that a recent American intelligence report contains “explosive” new findings on Iran’s nuclear program. Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz said yesterday that, according to Israel’s Minister of Defense, Ehud Barak, a new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran is currently “being passed around senior [government] offices” in the United States. Speaking on Thursday on government-owned Israel Radio, Barak said that the new NIE has brought American estimates on Iran’s nuclear program “closer to the Israeli position”. The NIE is a classified report, produced annually, that presents the consensus view of the US Intelligence Community on critical issues affecting American national security. Notably, a series of recent NIE reports have consistently argued that the Iranian government remains essentially indecisive about whether to militarize its nuclear program. IntelNews regulars may recall that, according to The New York Times, Israel’s primary external intelligence agency, the Mossad, is in broad agreement with the premise of recent American NIEs. Like its American equivalent, the CIA, the Israeli agency does not believe that Iran’s nuclear program has been militarized at this point. There is, however, one crucial difference between American and Israeli estimates on the subject: namely Tel Aviv’s view that the Iranian nuclear program should be militarily confronted regardless of Tehran’s future policy goals. According to Barak, the new American intelligence report contains “alarming […] information” that Iran has achieved “surprising, notable progress” on the research and development stage of its nuclear program. Read more of this post

Mossad, CIA, ‘agree Iran has no active nuclear weapons program’

Iran's Natanz nuclear enrichment facilityBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS| intelNews.org |
Quoting American intelligence sources, The New York Times reports that intelligence agencies from the United States and Israel agree that Iran suspended its nuclear weapons program years ago, and that Tehran is not currently attempting to revive it. As intelNews has been reporting consistently since 2009, the overwhelming consensus in the US intelligence community is that the Iranian regime suspended all efforts to build a nuclear bomb in 2003. Furthermore, the US intelligence community maintains that the decision to turn Iran into a nuclear power has yet to be conclusively taken in Tehran. This was first outlined in the 2007 US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), an annual report cooperatively authored by the heads of all US intelligence agencies. This consensus appears even wider after Sunday’s New York Times report, which maintains that, even though many hawkish Israeli politicians advocate aggressive action against Iran, Israel’s intelligence agency, the Mossad, is in broad agreement with the premise of the 2007 NIE. The Times cites an anonymous “former senior American intelligence official”, who says that, although Israeli intelligence planners direct “very hard questions” to their American counterparts, the “Mossad does not disagree with the US on the [Iranian] weapons program”, and that “there is not a lot of dispute between the US and Israeli intelligence communities on the facts”. Undeniably, the 2007 NIE has its detractors, including some who accuse the US intelligence community of refusing to realize “that Iran now has the capability to change the balance of power in the Gulf”. The latest report in The Times does not deny that there are “significant intelligence gaps” in Washington’s ability to understand Iran’s intentions. Iran, argues the report —correctly— is “one of the most difficult intelligence collection targets in the world”. Read more of this post

US spy agencies see no clear evidence of Iran building nukes

Cover of the 2007 National Intelligence EstimateBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS| intelNews.org |
The United States intelligence community still believes Iran has no immediate goals to produce nuclear arms, and says that Tehran terminated its atomic weapons program in 2003, according to American officials. This is not to say that Iran is not interested in potentially building nuclear weapons. Most intelligence analysts agree that Iran’s long-term goal is to explore the possibility of establishing a nuclear arsenal. However, putting aside the broad concurrence of opinion about Iran’s long-term goal, very little is clear about the current state of Tehran’s nuclear program. Iran maintains that its goal is peaceful, namely to invest in nuclear energy so as to free up large quantities of oil for exports. It is important to stress that the consensus among America’s intelligence agencies is that this is in fact Iran’s immediate goal. This was pronounced in the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), a publicly available annual report cooperatively authored by the heads of all 16 US intelligence agencies. The 2007 report stated “with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program”. The US intelligence community has come under sustained criticism from many who have denounced the 2007 and subsequent NIEs as mistaken, or even reckless. Last Friday, however, a New York Times article citing “current and former American officials” said that the consensus among US intelligence analysts remains “that there is no hard evidence that Iran has decided to build a nuclear bomb”. According to the article, the US intelligence community’s consensus remains “broadly consistent” with the 2007 and 2010 NIEs. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #667

Bob RaeBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Canadian authorities spied on political leader. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police spied on Bob Rae, current leader of Canada’s Liberal Party, when he was a student, and likely amassed a personal dossier on him, newly declassified documents reveal. Really, is there anyone in Canada who has not been spied on by the RCMP?
►►US intel community says Taliban want Afghanistan back. The Associated Press cites “two current and one former US official” who said anonymously that the classified Afghan National Intelligence Estimate declares the Afghanistan War “at a stalemate“, and says NATO security gains are “far outweighed by corruption at all levels of Afghan government”.
►►Canadian naval officer charged with espionage. A member of the Royal Canadian Navy has become the first person charged under the country’s post-9/11 secrets law for allegedly passing protected government information to an unknown foreign body. Sub-Lt. Jeffrey Paul Delisle, 40, was charged Monday under the Security of Information Act, which came into effect in 2001.

News you may have missed #338

  • US intel on Iran suffering from information overload? The US National Intelligence Estimate was due last fall but has been delayed at least twice amid efforts to “incorporate information from [Iranian] sources who are still being vetted”. Some say that significant new material has come from Iranian informants, who are motivated by antipathy toward the Iranian government and its suppression of the opposition.
  • Canada’s ex-intel boss slams new anti-terrorism measures. Reid Morden, the former director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, has urged the country’s Conservative government to re-think its plans to re-introduce controversial anti-terrorism measures initially adopted in the wake of 9/11.
  • Wiretapping scandals continue in Colombia. Caracol TV reports that Colombian security agency DAS has asked opposition Senator Piedad Cordoba to hand over evidence of her claims that President Alvaro Uribe ordered DAS to spy on her.

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News you may have missed #0030

  • German intelligence denies Iran nuclear estimate. The BND has denied reports in the German press that it believes Iran is capable of producing and testing an atomic bomb within six months. A BND spokesperson said that the agency’s view is that Iran would not be able to produce an atomic bomb for “several years”.
  • Ex-CIA Director Woolsey defends CIA assassination plan. James Woolsey, the Director of the CIA during the Clinton administration has defended the principle, as well as secrecy, behind the rumored post-9/11 CIA plan to set up assassination squads and unleash them after al-Qaeda’s leadership.
  • India and Pakistan to share more intelligence. India and Pakistan said yesterday that they agreed to increase communication- and information-sharing. But soon afterwards India announced there would be no resumption of formal normalization talks with Pakistan until Islamabad brings those behind last year’s Mumbai attacks to justice.

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