Inconvenient News,
       by smintheus

Saturday, June 09, 2007

  MI6 stops loose Russian nukes destined for Iran?

The Observer has a story that you might find rather frightening. And indeed you are supposed to be frightened. Is this fact, fiction, or something in between?

The reporter, Mark Townsend, typically files reports that are properly skeptical of the British war efforts and government propaganda. This report, though, doesn't ring true. Townsend states that a group of Britons had acquired weapons grade uranium from Russia, which it planned to ship through Sudan to another country, perhaps Iran. MI6, says Townsend, has now shut down their company.

The report has to be taken with a large grain of salt—because the details remain sketchy, the accusations are highly inflammatory, and there are inherent improbabilities. But most of all, because the US and UK have for many months been feeding false information to reporters about the danger presented by Iran. Last August, for example, The Sunday Times floated a story that a large amount of uranium was smuggled out of the Congo and destined for Iran when it was intercepted in 2005. The story has since been discredited as a gross distortion of the facts.

In a campaign of propaganda, nothing should be believed without proof.

From the Observer:

A British company has been closed down after being caught in an apparent attempt to sell black-market weapons-grade uranium to Iran and Sudan, The Observer can reveal.

Anti-terrorist officers and MI6 are now investigating a wider British-based plot allegedly to supply Iran with material for use in a nuclear weapons programme. One person has already been charged with attempting to proliferate 'weapons of mass destruction'.

During the 20-month investigation, which also involved MI5 and Customs and Excise, a group of Britons was tracked as they obtained weapons-grade uranium from the black market in Russia. Investigators believe it was intended for export to Sudan and on to Iran.

A number of Britons, who are understood to have links with Islamic terrorists abroad, remain under surveillance. Investigators believe they have uncovered the first proof that al-Qaeda supporters have been actively engaged in developing an atomic capability. The British company, whose identity is known to The Observer but cannot be disclosed for legal reasons, has been wound up.

Townsend never explains why loose nukes were meant to be transshipped via Sudan, rather than simply across the border to Iran. Even worse, there's nary a word about why Al Qaeda would be in bed with Iran. On top of that, there's a total absence of detail about the group and the state of its planning; it's described as "an apparent attempt" rather than a proven one. It would be very difficult either to verify or falsify this story because of the absence of detail.

The report goes on to state, rather remarkably, that the plot was disrupted in early 2006. Aha, so why are we hearing about it just now?

This looks to be part of the long war of propaganda against Iran, charted well by News Hoggers among others. Less likely, the leak could be related to Putin's embarrassing counter-offer to Bush at the G-8 Summit, to station missile defense systems in Azerbaijan rather than in eastern Europe.

For what it's worth the reporter, Mark Townsend, relates the issue to Iranian behavior.

Politically, the allegations hold potentially huge ramifications for diplomatic relations between the West and Tehran... Investigators are understood to have evidence that Iran was to receive the uranium to help develop a nuclear weapons capability.

What that evidence is, however, we are not told. Townsend does point to an alleged increase in cooperation between Sudan and Iran on "defense issues", but in a rhetorically charged fashion ("colluding on military matters", a phrase I doubt he would apply to, say, British/US contacts).

I'm very skeptical of the motives of those who have leaked this information as well as of the state of the planning. The fact that MI6 is continuing to surveil people in regard to this alleged plot strongly suggests that there may be less here than meets the eye.

In any case I'll also restate my opinion, which I've been expressing for the last year, that the Bush administration already has come to recognize that the collapse of the US position in Iraq has made an attack on Iran practically impossible as well as considerably more dangerous than it would have been even a few years ago.

The steady stream of propaganda you see directed against Iran, as well as the administration's saber-rattling, are I believe part of a Psyops campaign. Its intent is to bring Iran to the negotiating table and convince the Iranians that they, rather than the US, must make concessions. The Iranians are meant to conclude that Bush & Co. are just crazy enough to attack Iran.

That's not to say that there are not indeed still plenty of crazies in this administration who would welcome a war against Iran, most prominently Cheney.

It's just that, in my view, the enormity of the fiasco in Iraq hit home last spring. As a result, those who were counseling caution regarding Iran gained the upper hand.

Laura Rozen has a new piece out in which she argues essentially the same thing.

Interviews with numerous current and former Iran hands in the U.S. government indicate that the Bush administration has not decided to try to foment regime change in Iran. On the contrary, the policy is moving in the other direction, away from confrontation and toward expanded diplomacy, multiple sources and signs suggest. The reported covert action, these sources say, should be understood as part of an effort by Washington, now hobbled by the war in Iraq, to gain leverage vis-a-vis Iran as it moves deeper along a diplomatic track.

Among the continuing signs that it is actually State Department pragmatists who are gaining the upper hand over regime-change hard-liners, Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns informed a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in writing in May of the closing down of a shadowy U.S. interagency group, the Iran-Syria Policy Operations Group, that had been meeting weekly over the past year to find ways to poke at the Iranian regime. Sources at the State Department and on Capitol Hill say that Burns had wanted the group closed for months, believing it was leading to confusion -- and turf battles -- over the thrust of U.S. policy toward Iran. "The policy of the U.S. government is behavior change," sighed one U.S. official involved with Iran policy, who asked not to be further identified. "We're on the record [saying that], a million times." ...

Bruce Riedel, a former senior CIA and National Security Council official who dealt with Iran, said that the behavior-changers in the Bush administration clearly are winning. "I think that there certainly is a group within the administration which would love to pursue regime change, and they are centered in the vice president's office," Riedel said. "But I think overall they appear to have lost the battle on this. And the biggest reason they lost the battle is that the military option, which is essential to regime change, has just got so many downsides that it's become obvious even to hard-liners opposed to the clerical regime that there is no military option available to us as long as we have 150,000 soldiers in Iraq."

I believe that the Bush administration is very content that reasonable people everywhere are deeply worried it might decide to bomb Iran. World opinion is being played as part of a Psyops campaign against the Iranian government. Paradoxically, I'm urging you not necessarily to believe the sane people who are warning you to beware the crazies who are running the US government.

This is a slightly expanded version of the original post, which remains unchanged at Unbossed

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  • Interesting post. And, yes please feel free to use whatever you want from Desert Beacon!

    By Blogger Desert Beacon, at 11:31 PM  

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