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American Weather Balloon

American Mole in Tehran?

 

 

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Somebody wanted this piece of information to be circulated widely. On February 26, 2010, it appeared on the internet version of the New York Times. The next day it appeared on page A1 of the printed edition. I wish I could say the same about my book or articles. The article – signed by David E. Sanger, with Michael Slackman, Robert F. Worth and Mark Landler as contributors from Cairo, Amman, Beirut and Washington – was so bizarre that I decided to make a favor to the authors and mention it also in my website; though I suspect – as it will become clear – that the true authors are hiding somewhere within the American intelligence services. I am even aware that my point of view may not be considered a favor by them, but that’s the nature of things.

The article is named “Another Puzzle After Iran Moves Nuclear Fuel.” I could summarize the thesis of the authors simply as “I don’t know,” which is an amazing one for an article published in one of the planet’s most circulated newspapers.

Weather Balloon

Weather Balloon

I Don’t Know, But I Feel Like…

What’s Mr. Sanger’s problem? He describes the surprise caused by Iran when it moved nearly its entire stockpile of low-enriched nuclear fuel to an above-ground plant on February 14, 2010.

He describes then how “that mystery is the subject of fervent debate among many who are trying to decode Iran’s intentions.” Without naming them, he is referring here to the intelligence agencies. I doubt very much that the opinion held on the matter by the bakery where he buys his morning bagels interests him. At this stage the article credentials are clear: a prestigious newspaper is publishing an article requested by the local intelligence services. This is another fine example of freedom of press and speech. Should the time wasted on reading such a piece be saved? Not necessarily, I found it interesting and profoundly informative - not on Iran - but on American intelligence agencies.

The rest of the article explores several options for the move of the fuel. Without going into the full list (the article is available on the New York Times website), I just want to quote the main options proposed: “The theories run from the bizarre to the mundane: Under one, Iran is actually taunting the Israelis to strike first. Under another, it is simply escalating the confrontation with the West to win further concessions in negotiations. The simplest explanation, and the one that the Obama administration subscribes to, is that Iran has run short of suitable storage containers for radioactive fuel, so it had to move everything.”

Not a native English speaker, I am always amazed at the way things are phrased in that language: carefully, succinctly, without place to misunderstandings and almost without subtexts – at least when compared to the highly implicit and compact Hebrew. Making balanced statements in newspapers is also the norm in English speaking countries; thus I was surprised to find several sentences that looked like taunting toward the Iranians. It uses derogatory terms towards their technologies; it says also that they are highly divided, that they make no technical sense, that they were forced due to technical incapability and so on. If I were an Iranian, I would probably be offended not by the possibilities mentioned, but due to the way everything was phrased, which includes words like “screwed up.” Subtly, the article was saying (to an Iranian): “unless you explain that, we’ll think – and say! – ‘you are morons!’” In another words, Mr. Sanger’s article is a provocation to get answers from the Iranians; an article written not for the New Yorker reading his morning favorite newspaper, but for an Iranian intelligence officer. In other words: an American Weather Balloon.

I’ve described extensively this type of provocations – so favored by Western security services – in The Cross of Bethlehem, Back in Bethlehem and in articles like On an Israeli Art Student and State Terror Techniques. A point to be kept in mind – at least by us, mere mortals – is that, by definition, true answers cannot be get to such answers. Even if someone would provide an answer with proofs (and it doesn’t matter what type of proofs, remember the fake Dodgy Dossier that ignited the war in Iraq), it could always be claimed to be good disinformation efforts by the Iranian themselves bringing the whole affair back to its initial point. It would be a non-ending affair. So, why bother? Why do we see these massive efforts of Western intelligence agencies to achieve the unachievable? Here is where an administrator can provide a better answer than the most intelligent intelligence officer: the only achieved goal by such manipulations is increasing staff, means, salaries and pensions to the intelligence services organizations. Did we vote for that?

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