Washington: Iran’s intelligence agencies have penetrated CIA front companies, executed Western agents and captured a sophisticated US drone.
So why should anyone believe American intelligence officials when they express confidence that they can monitor Iran’s compliance with the just-completed nuclear agreement?
The main reason, according to a classified joint intelligence assessment presented to Congress, is that the deal requires Iran to provide an unprecedented volume of information about nearly every aspect of its existing nuclear program, which Iran insists is peaceful.
That data will make checking on compliance easier, officials say, because it will shrink Iran’s capacity to hide a covert weapons program.
“We will have far better insight (into) the industrial aspects of the Iranian nuclear program with this deal than what we have today,” James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, told an audience last month at the Aspen Security Forum.
Outside experts don’t dispute that. But they question considering past blunders of US intelligence in the Middle East whether American spying will really be able to detect every instance of Iranian cheating.
“The intelligence community can rarely guarantee, ‘We’re going find the secret site,'” said David Albright, a former weapons inspector who heads the Institute for Science and International Security.
“They have found them before in Iran and that’s good, but I think they are going to have to do more work and bolster their capabilities to find secret sites in Iran in an environment when Iran is taking counter measures against them.”
Congress is expected to vote next month on accepting or rejecting the agreement. Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday that if Congress rejects the deal, the US won’t be able to prevent allies from doing business with Tehran.