CIA tried to plant fake nuke evidence in Iran for the IAEA to find
Details of a 15-year-old Central Intelligence Agency sting emerging from a court case in the U.S. may prompt United Nations monitors to reassess some evidence related to Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons work, two western diplomats said.
International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors in Vienna will probably review intelligence they received about Iran as a result of the revelations, said the two diplomats who are familiar with the IAEA’s Iran file and asked not to be named because the details are confidential. The CIA passed doctored blueprints for nuclear-weapon components to Iran in February 2000, trial documents have shown.
“This story suggests a possibility that hostile intelligence agencies could decide to plant a ‘smoking gun’ in Iran for the IAEA to find,” said Peter Jenkins, the U.K.’s former envoy to the Vienna-based agency. “That looks like a big problem.”
The UN agency is charged with deciding whether the Iranian government has been trying to develop nuclear weapons and its ruling may determine whether international sanctions against the country are lifted. While Iranian officials have consistently accused the IAEA of basing its case on forged documents, the agency has never acknowledged receiving tampered evidence.
A spokesman for the IAEA said the agency carries out a thorough assessment of the information it receives. The CIA didn’t immediately respond to e-mail and telephone requests for comment.
The CIA documents were filed as evidence to an Alexandria, Virginia court on Jan. 14 for the trial of Jeffrey Sterling, who was convicted of leaking classified information about operations against Iran. Sterling worked on a CIA project aimed at misleading Iranian scientists by feeding modified designs for nuclear-weapons components to the country’s IAEA mission in Austria.