US Engaged In Covert War Against Iran? – OpEd


’ve been intrigued by the question how involved the U.S. is in the black ops campaign against Iran that is being conducted largely by Israel.  I hadn’t noticed this article published two months ago by AP reporter, Douglas Birch.  In it, he delves into the question and comes up with more support for the thesis than I’d seen in previous reports:

The chief of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, Fereidoun Abbasi, told journalists at a meeting in Vienna last week that the United States was supporting an Israeli assassination campaign against his scientists.

…The U.S. has denied any role in the slayings [of three Iranian nuclear scientists].  ”We condemn any assassination or attack on a person – on an innocent person,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said after the latest killing in July. “We were not involved.”

…Yet there is little doubt that the Obama administration is pursuing a program of high-tech sabotage to disrupt Tehran’s suspected weapons-related nuclear efforts.

“I have no doubt that the U.S. and other countries were behind industrial sabotage aimed at the program of concern,” said Mark Fitzpatrick, a former State Department official who’s now at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London.

…Publicly, the administration has pushed for…diplomatic isolation to pressure Iran…At the same time, former officials said, the U.S. and its allies have ramped up covert actions aimed at slowing Iran’s nuclear progress toward a bomb.  Ex-officials said the U.S. has been careful to target only those facilities suspected of playing a role in weapons work.

One former senior intelligence official said that the U.S. considered a scheme to use a burst of electromagnetic energy to knock out power to one suspected Iranian weapons-related site but rejected the plan because of the risk of causing a widespread power outage. The former official would only speak about classified matters on condition of anonymity.

The suspected sabotage campaign is widely seen as an alternative to military confrontation with Iran, which some experts say could have disastrous consequences for the Middle East.

A 2010 U.S. diplomatic memorandum published by…WikiLeaks quoted a German government official as saying that a program of “covert sabotage” against Iran, including explosions, computer hacking and engineered accidents, “would be more effective than a military strike whose effects in the region could be devastating.” The memo did not cite any specifics.

Birch goes on to note reports of Reagan era U.S. sabotage of a Russian trans-Siberian pipeline which caused a 3 megaton explosion seen from outer space.  This is all of a piece with recent developments including sabotaging of Iranian oil pipelines and military bases.

Moving on to a related subject, after the November 12th IRG missile base explosion, Channel 2′s (Israel) military reporter, Roni Daniel, participated in a wrapup of the weekly news and made the following claims.  That the blast killed not only Brig. Gen. Hassan Moggadam, the leader of the nation’s missile program, but that it killed another general, Mehdi Dashteen Zadah and a group of distinguished scientific researchers and PhDs in a series of critical fields (and here I’m quoting from the list Daniel stated on air): electro-chemistry, geophysics, mechanics and computer software simulation (imaging).  Daniel, who’s known to be a flack for the IDF and intelligence community, is quoting Ronen Solomon, who writes for Israel Defense.  So the information needs to be taken with a grain of salt.  But the specificity of some of the claims warrant further investigation.

Today a reporter working from U.S. sources, said that he’d also heard that the 17 who were mourned by Ayatollah Khamenei in a state funeral included senior military and scientific figures.  There exists a distinct possibility that the blast not only wiped out an advanced missile design being tested, but that it also wiped out a good deal of the scientific and technical expertise of the country’s missile program.  Again, not to be considered fully trustworthy until verified further.

On Diane Rehm’s weekly show, one of the guests was former CIA covert ops specialist and neocon darling Reuel Marc Gerecht.  He made the rather startling claim that Pres. Obama could engage in specific acts that were “lethal” inside Iran without requiring Congressional oversight, though he did concede that a full-on U.S. covert ops program would require it.  If Obama did request such Congressional approval there’s no doubt he’d be welcomed with open arms, which pretty much obviates the need for any such oversight to begin with.

Add to this the sense of nervousness this Reuters report induces, when it quotes U.S. officials acknowledging “a sense of opacity” about Israel’s intentions regarding Iran.  Don’t know about you, but if you don’t know the mind of one of your closest allies who’s been rattling sabers for years about an enemy, that’s time to start scanning the skies of F-16s.  The time to lay down the law with such an ally is before they take off.  You can’t bring them back after that.  I’m not event convinced Obama has the power to rein in Israel at all until it begins running out of Cruise missiles and bunker busters.  By then a lot of damage will have been done, and I’m not talking about Iran’s nuclear plants.  I’m talking about damage to U.S. credibility, damage from Iranian counterattacks, etc.  I fear Obama will stand by looking and acting helpless, which is pretty much the way his entire foreign policy looks these days.

This article appeared at Tikun Olam

Richard Silverstein

Richard Silverstein is an author, journalist and blogger, with articles appearing in Haaretz, the Jewish Forward, Los Angeles Times, the Guardian’s Comment Is Free, Al Jazeera English, and Alternet. His work has also been in the Seattle Times, American Conservative Magazine, Beliefnet and Tikkun Magazine, where he is on the advisory board. Check out Silverstein's blog at Tikun Olam, one of the earliest liberal Jewish blogs, which he has maintained since February, 2003.

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