Report: Israel engaged in covert war inside Iran

Israel is involved in a covert war of sabotage inside Iran in an effort to delay Tehran’s attempts to develop a nuclear weapon, the Daily Telegraph newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Quoting intelligence experts and an unnamed former CIA agent, the newspaper said Israel’s ”decapitation” strategy had targeted members of Iran’s atomic programme, hoping to set back the country’s nuclear ambitions without resorting to war.

The programme has taken on extra emphasis with the election of President Barack Obama, who has adopted a more diplomatic line with Iran, quietening former Bush administration talk of a possible military strike against Iran to hit its nuclear assets.

”Disruption is designed to slow progress on the programme, done in such a way they don’t realise what’s happening,” the paper quoted a former CIA operative as saying.

”The goal is delay, delay, delay until you can come up with some other solution or approach.

”We certainly don’t want the current Iranian government to have those weapons. It’s a good policy, short of taking them out militarily, which probably carries unacceptable risks.”

Asked about the newspaper report, Mark Regev, a spokesperson for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, told Reuters: ”It is not our practice to comment publicly about these sorts of allegations, not in this situation, not in any situation.”

As evidence of Israel’s reported strategy, Iran watchers have pointed to events such as the death of Ardeshire Hassanpour, a nuclear scientist at the Isfahan uranium plant who died at home from apparent gas poisoning in 2007.

Meir Javendafar, an Iran expert at Meepas, a Middle East analysis group, said there were also reports Iran was being sold faulty equipment for its nuclear programme on international markets, and that there were attempts to disrupt the electricity supply to Natanz, a uranium enrichment facility in central Iran.

”I think there is sabotage going on, it’s a logical move and it makes sense in the game that is part of the overall struggle to disrupt Iran’s nuclear ambitions,” he told Reuters in London.

”In the absence of a diplomatic solution to resolve this problem, and the infeasibility of war for now, this is the best next solution,” he said.

However, he said there were also indications that several more countries other than Israel were involved in attempting to infiltrate Iran to disrupt its nuclear programme, and suggested much of the reported clandestine activity was more part of a psychological war than an actual one of sabotage.

”Numerous intelligence agencies are trying their best to do this. Not just Israel but the Americans and many European spy agencies — there are even reports that neutrals such as Holland have been involved,” he said.

”If it’s true, then it’s putting pressure on the Iranian programme technically. If it’s not true, then it’s all just part of the psychological conflict.

”Since none of this is confirmed, we can’t be sure. But even if there’s no truth to it, it’s part of what is a massive psychological war against Iran’s nuclear programme. That is a certainty. That is clear.

”It’s also affordable, much more affordable than sabotaging equipment inside Iran.” — Reuters

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