‘A Major Intelligence Success’

September 25, 2009 | Last updated: July 31, 2020

I don’t have any more yet, but the early speculation on the cable networks is that Iran’s very belated disclosure of its nuclear facility under construction near Qom came after western intelligence services closed in on the structure. Less than five years ago, the Silberman-Robb commission on WMD intelligence castigated the U.S. intelligence community for being poorly situated to collect key threat-related information on targets like Iran and North Korea. That, plus the memory of nonexistent WMD in Iraq, makes it hard to take U.S. intelligence claims without a grain of salt. Laura Rozen jostles the shaker:

But sources having recent conversations with top American officials on Iran policy say they are not convinced that is the sequence in which things occurred. Some wondered if Iran’s disclosure of the facility to the IAEA may have confirmed western suspicions that had previously been unconfirmed.

Not so, says a U.S. intelligence official who would only speak on background. “This was a major intelligence success,” the official said, but would not elaborate — yet. More information as I acquire it, to either flesh out that claim or refute it.

Marc Lynch, pocketing the assumption that the Iran disclosure referenced by Presidents Obama and Sarkozy and Prime Minister Brown was prompted by such an intelligence success, analyzes:

It also demonstrates to the Iranians the quality of Western intelligence and the difficulty of deception and denial — especially in the atmosphere of (quite warranted) mistrust of their intentions.  That may reduce their reasons to oppose the intrusive inspections and monitoring regime which Gary Sick argues is the most likely reasonable negotiated outcome.  Such an outcome would be far more in the interests of the U.S., Iran, and Iran’s neighbors than any plausible outcome of a military strike, and has to be the target of the engagement process.