According to CBS News, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has leaked information to the press about a new, and allegedly more damning, assessment from the US intelligence community about Iran’s nuclear program. Ever since the US National Intelligence Estimate concluded that Iran halted any semblance of a weapons program back in 2003, Israel has been grudgingly working their hawkish rhetoric around that inconvenient conclusion. Now they’ve apparently pounced at the opportunity to amplify press coverage of another assessment, which according to CBS doesn’t conclude Iran has a nuclear weapons program, but says “Iran has made surprising, significant progress toward military nuclear capability,” as stated by Barak.
Earlier in the week I debunked a new report from Haaretz making these same claims, but naming no names. See here for why the new rumors lack any credibility.
The Obama administration has so far refused to speak about this latest news. Trita Parsi, who has demonstrated high-level contacts in the US government, tweeted that behind the scenes Washington is “livid” about Barak’s leaking. No other information has yet been forthcoming.
In the meantime, here’s Nima Shirazi’s pithy take:
From The New York Times on September 8, 2002:
From Ha’aretz on August 9, 2012:
Update: Laura Rosen at Al-Monitor on Barak’s leaks:
“The rules of the spy game are clear,” former US Navy intelligence analyst John Schindlerwrote on his blog. “When intelligence services share information, as they do every day, you don’t pass it to third parties without clearance. Ever. And if you do, eventually you will get burned and nobody will want to play marbles with you.”
…Non-proliferation analysts speculated that it could involve one of the categories of continuing research activities specified by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in its November 2011 report on Iran. Those research activities were engaging in experimental research, after 2003, on hemispherical initiation of high explosives; further validation, after 2006, of a neutron initiator design; conducting modeling studies, in 2008 and 2009, that could determine the yield of a nuclear explosion.
However, “carrying on scattered research activities does not amount to a full-fledged restart of an integrated weapons program,” Greg Thielmann, a former US intelligence analyst and senior fellow at the Arms Control Association, wrote in an ACA Iran Nuclear Threat Assessment brief (.pdf).
Update II: From Reuters – “US still believes Iran not on verge of nuclear weapon“