CIA wooed defectors from within Iran's nuclear ranks
The CIA launched a clandestine effort aimed at degrading Iran's nuclear weapons capabilities by persuading key officials to defect, an effort which has had limited success but provided US intelligence agencies with information that recently concluded the Islamic state halted its weapons program in 2003, the Los Angeles Times' Greg Miller reports in Sunday's [registration-restricted] edition.
CIA officials dubbed the program "the Brain Drain," which was initiated in 2005, the reports says.
"Intelligence gathered as part of that campaign provided much of the basis for a U.S. report released last week that concluded the Islamic Republic had halted its nuclear weapons work in 2003," Miller writes. "Officials declined to say how much of that intelligence could be attributed to the CIA program to recruit defectors."
Using a tactic that was a hallmark of the Cold War, the CIA aimed to pluck key scientists and military personnel working on the program from Iran. In the past, this technique was aimed at acquiring military secrets.
With Iran, however the effort was aimed a degrading an existing nuclear program, "suggesting that U.S. officials believe Iran's nuclear know-how is still thin enough that it can be depleted."
Miller says the program has had "limited success," with "fewer than six" well-placed Iranians actually defecting.
"None has been in a position to provide comprehensive information on Tehran's nuclear program," he added.
Read the full LA Times story at this link.