Israel ‘conducts espionage incursions into Iran from Kurdish Iraq’

Kurds in the Iran-Iraq border regionBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS & IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Israeli intelligence services are routinely using an undisclosed base in Iraqi Kurdistan to launch regular intelligence missions into Iran, according to The Sunday Times. The London-based newspaper cited unnamed “Western intelligence sources” in alleging that Israeli commandos and highly trained special forces members have been conducting cross-border operations from northern Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan province. But, says the paper, these risky intelligence missions have been intensified to an unprecedented degree in the past few months, as the Israelis are desperately seeking “smoking gun evidence” to convince the United States and the United Nations that Iran is actively constructing a nuclear warhead. The Israelis, according to the Times, deploy twelve-member fully armed teams into Iran on modified Black Hawk helicopters, which are able to fly for approximately 500 miles without needing to refuel. After landing into Iran, the Israeli commandos, who are usually in Iranian military uniforms, are transported to target locations in vehicles made to look like those used by the Iranian military. Their target destinations include Iranian military complexes such as that in Parchin, located 19 miles southeast of Tehran. The Times claims that the Israeli commando teams have also been to Fordow, near Qum, a heavily guarded former Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps base that houses an underground uranium enrichment facility. The article claims that, once they reach their destination, the Israeli commando teams use “sensitive equipment” to monitor levels of radioactivity and record the magnitude of any explosives tests that might be carried out at those locations. IntelNews has paid particular attention over the years to reports of alleged cooperation between Israeli intelligence agencies and Kurdish groups in Iraq and elsewhere. Read more of this post

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Senior Iranian scientist defected to CIA: report

Shahram Amiri

Shahram Amiri

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS| intelNews.org |
ABC News appears to confirm earlier rumors, which intelNews reported on last December, that a senior Iranian nuclear scientist has defected to the CIA. The Iranian government had initially accused American and Saudi intelligence agencies of kidnapping Shahram Amiri, a central figure in the Iranian nuclear research program, who disappeared last June during a hajj pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. However, as intelNews reported last year, French intelligence sources  claimed that Amiri’s defection was facilitated through a carefully planned intelligence operation involving the CIA, as well as French and German operatives. Moreover, the alleged defector was said to have secretly briefed International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors in Frankfurt, Germany, before they traveled to Iran to inspect a previously undeclared Iranian nuclear facility near the city of Qum. According to ABC News, which cites “people briefed on the operation by intelligence officials”, not only has Amiri defected to the CIA, but he has already been “extensively debriefed” since his defection. Read more of this post

BREAKING NEWS: Bomb blast kills Iranian physicist

Masoud Ali Mohammadi

Dr. Mohammadi

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS| intelNews.org |
Iran’s state broadcaster has said a government physicist was “martyred” earlier this morning in a suspicious blast outside his home. The Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) news agency reports that police forces have sealed off the area around the Tehran residence of Masoud Ali-Mohammadi, whom it described as a “dedicated revolutionary professor”. Dr. Ali-Mohammadi was reportedly killed by a remotely controlled explosive device that was planted at the entrance of his residence. Iranian officials hint that the remnants of the device point to the work of “outside intelligence agencies”, and some implicate the Mossad. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0223 (Iran special)

  • US tells China it can’t stop Israel from striking Iran indefinitely. Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz claims that “senior officials in Jerusalem” said US President Barack Obama recently warned his Chinese counterpart that “the United States would not be able to keep Israel from attacking Iranian nuclear installations for much longer”.
  • Iranian memo puzzles Western spy agencies. Does this two-page memorandum, written in Persian, provide an accurate account of the status of Iran’s nuclear program? “Some people think this is the smoking gun”, one senior European official said on Tuesday, “and others say it will be very hard to prove if it’s authentic”.
  • Iran claims capture of Western spy in Qom. An Iranian state-owned television station has announced the alleged capture two months ago of a spy for a Western intelligence agency who is said to have gathered information on Iran’s uranium enrichment site at Qum. But some observers have questioned the report.

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Iranian defector briefed UN inspectors on Iran nuclear program

Iranian nuclear facility in Qum

Qum facility

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
An Iranian nuclear scientist who vanished during a pilgrimage to Mecca last June has defected to the West and has briefed American and United Nations officials about Iran’s nuclear program. As intelNews reported on October 9, rumors have been circulating in the Arab press that Shahram Amiri, a senior figure in the Iranian nuclear research program, was not abducted by Saudi and Western intelligence agencies, as Iran claims, but actually defected to the West. Now British newspaper The Sunday Telegraph has cited “a source close to France’s overseas secret service, the DGSE”, who claims that Amiri’s defection was facilitated through a carefully planned intelligence operation involving the CIA, as well as French and German operatives. Read more of this post

Iran blames US, Saudis over defection of Iranian nuclear scientist

Manouchehr Mottaki

M. Mottaki

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Iran’s foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, has accused American and Saudi Arabian intelligence agencies of complicity in the recent disappearance of an Iranian nuclear scientist. Mottaki’s comments followed revelations in London-based Arabic-language daily, Al-Sharq al-Awsat, that the scientist, Shahram Amiri, defected to the West earlier this year. The paper said the researcher, who worked for the Islamic Republic’s nuclear energy program, defected during a hajj pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It also claimed that another Iranian nuclear scientist, whose identity has not yet emerged, has disappeared, and may have defected, during a recent visit to the Republic of Georgia. The rumored disappearances may be part of Israel’s ongoing secret war on Iran’s nuclear program, which British newspaper The Daily Telegraph described last February as a covert “decapitation program” by Israeli intelligence, targeting Iran’s nuclear scientists. Read more of this post

Analysis: Spy agencies disagree on status of Iran’s nuclear program

M. Ahmadinejad

M. Ahmadinejad

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Western intelligence agencies agree that Iran’s ultimate aim is to fortify its military posture with nuclear weapons. Putting aside, however, the broad concurrence of opinion about Iran’s long-term goal, very little is clear about the immediate status of the country’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 reality is that the existence of Iran’s second uranium enrichment plant –of which, incidentally, Western and Israeli intelligence agencies have been aware for years– does not necessarily contest the findings of the 2007 NIE. IntelNews editor Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis explains why this is so on the website of the Research Institute for European and American Studies. Read article →

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