Israel suspected of leaks to incriminate Iran

Officials believe Israel leaked documents from an international nuclear inquiry to amp up pressure on Tehran

Topics: Iran, Israel, Leaks, AP, Nuclear Weapons, IAEA, ,

Israel is suspected of carrying out leaks aimed to implicate Iran in nuclear weapons experiments, according to the Guardian Monday. It is believed that Israel is responsible for leaking to the AP a graph, which, despite its farcically primitive appearance, was trumpeted as evidence for Tehran’s nuclear program.

As the Guardian reported:

The leaked diagram raised questions about an investigation being carried out by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors after it emerged that it formed part of a file of intelligence on alleged Iranian nuclear weapons work held by the agency.

The IAEA’s publication of a summary of the file in November 2011 helped trigger a new round of punitive E.U. and U.S. sanctions.

Western officials say they have reasons to suspect Israel of being behind the most recent leak and a series of previous disclosures from the IAEA investigation, pointing to Israel’s impatience at what it sees as international complacency over Iranian nuclear activity.

When the AP first posted the graph, skeptical commentators such Yousaf Butt and Ferenc Dalnoki-Veress at the Bulletin of Atomic Sciences noted that the diagram “does nothing more than indicate either slipshod analysis or an amateurish hoax … the diagram features quite a massive error, which is unlikely to have been made by research scientists working at a national level.”

The IAEA noted that the graph was only a small part of a much broader collection of data in the inquiry into Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

At the time, our old friend Glenn Greenwald decried the AP’s publication of the leaked image as “uncritical fear-mongering” and chastised the decision not to name the leak’s source. “Note that AP granted anonymity here not merely to an individual but to an entire country. What’s the proffered justification for doing so? The officials wanted it, so AP gave it: ‘officials provided the diagram only on condition that they and their country not be named.’ That’s very accommodating of AP,” wrote Greenwald, who noted that AP’s reference to the source as “a country critical of Iran’s atomic program” did not leave much to the imagination.

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The Guardian on Monday noted that if Israel had leaked IAEA documents in an attempt to hasten action against Iran, the effort may have backfired. “According to one European diplomat,” the Guardian’s Julian Borger wrote, “the principal impact of the leak would be to compromise the ongoing IAEA investigation into whether Iran has tried to develop a nuclear weapon at any point … Analysts say that the recent leaks may have shown the IAEA’s hand, revealing what it knows and does not know, and therefore undermined the position of its inspectors in tense and so far fruitless talks with Iranian officials about the country’s past nuclear activities.”

Meanwhile, anti-Israel groups have also been using IAEA information as a tool for their own purposes. A hacker group by the name “Parastoo” (which means bird in Farsi) leaked 170 email addresses belonging to scientists at the U.N. agency, following a hack on the IAEA server. Parastoo claimed to possess more sensitive IAEA information, which it has threatened to publish if the agency does not investigate Israel’s unofficially acknowledged nuclear program.


Natasha Lennard
Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email

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