Thursday, September 14, 2006

Cooking Intelligence Again

UN inspectors investigating Iran's nuclear program sent a letter to the Bush administration and to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Michigan) on September 13 regarding a recent House committee report on Iran's capabilities. The letter called parts of the document "outrageous and dishonest" and offered evidence to refute its central claims. The report, Recognizing Iran as a Strategic Threat: An Intelligence Challenge for the United States, was written by Frederick Fleitz, a former CIA officer and John Bolton’s former Chief of Staff and henchman at the State Department.

The letter sent by officials of the International Atomic Energy Agency and was signed by Vilmos Cserveny, the IAEA's director for external affairs and a former Hungarian ambassador. The letter said that the report contained some "erroneous, misleading and unsubstantiated statements." After no WMD were found in Iraq, the IAEA has been under criticism from the White House for taking a cautious approach on Iran. The letter sent on September 13 is the first time the IAEA has publicly disputed US allegations about the agency’s Iran investigation.

Below are a few of the five major errors in the House Intelligence report pointed out in the letter:

  • The IAEA called the report’s assertions that Iran is producing weapons-grade uranium at its facility in the town of Natanz "incorrect," noting that weapons-grade uranium is enriched to a level of 90 percent or more. Iran has enriched uranium to 3.5 percent under IAEA monitoring.
  • Among the allegations in the report is that IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei removed a senior inspector from the Iran investigation because he raised "concerns about Iranian deception regarding its nuclear program." The IAEA said the inspector has not been removed.
  • The report also suggested that IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei had an "unstated" policy that prevented inspectors from telling the truth about Iran's program. The letter called the assertion particularly "outrageous and dishonest," according to the IAEA letter.

Here is the full letter made available by the Washington Post.

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