Report: Israel Scales Back Covert Operations Inside Iran (INN) ISRAEL NATIONAL NEWS) By Elad Benari 04/01/12)
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Israel’s intelligence services have scaled back covert operations
inside Iran, TIME Magazine reported on Friday.
Senior Israeli security officials told the magazine that the Mossad
has been ratcheting down by “dozens of percent” in recent months
secret efforts to disable or delay the Islamic Republic’s nuclear
The reduction runs across a wide spectrum of operations, the
officials said, and includes cutting back not only alleged high-
profile missions such as assassinations and detonations at Iranian
missile bases, but also efforts to gather firsthand on-the-ground
intelligence and recruit spies inside the Iranian program.
One official told TIME the new hesitancy to operate in Iran has
caused “increasing dissatisfaction” inside the Mossad. Another senior
security officer attributed the reluctance to Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu, saying the Prime Minister is worried about the
consequences of a covert operation being discovered or going awry.
Iranian intelligence already has cracked one cell trained and
equipped by Mossad, Western intelligence officials confirmed to TIME.
The officials admitted that the detailed confession on Iranian state
television last year by Majid Jamali Fashid for the January 2010
assassination by motorcycle bomb of nuclear scientist Massoud Ali
Mohmmadi was genuine.
The report also noted that the covert campaign also invites
retribution from Iran’s own far-reaching underground, which may be a
reason for Israel scaling it back. TIME noted the recently thwarted
plots against Israeli targets in Thailand, Azerbaijan, Singapore and
Georgia, as well as the attack near the Israeli embassy in New Delhi,
which Indian officials have blamed on Iran.
While scaling back covert operations against Iran also carries costs,
the report said, Iran itself has estimated that sabotage to date has
set back its centrifuge program by two full years.
The report suggested that the computer virus known as Stuxnet, which
hit Iranian computers last year, was a joint effort by intelligence
services in Israel and a European nation. That alleged effort
involved a variety of governments besides Israel, involving equipment
made to purposely malfunction after being tampered with before it
physically entered Iran.
TIME noted that the resulting setbacks prompted Iran to announce it
would manufacture all components of its nuclear program itself, but
outside experts have been highly skeptical Tehran has the ability to
actually do that.
“Iran has said for some time that they’re self-sufficient, but that’s
a bag of wind,” Mark Fitzpatrick, a former State Department nuclear
proliferation specialist told TIME.
Fitzpatrick noted that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad
announced in February that Iran had perfected a far more efficient
centrifuge — a “fourth-generation” machine, three levels beyond its
original centrifuges, made from designs purchased from Pakistan’s
A.Q. Khan. He, however, said he doubts this is true.
“They haven’t been able to get the second generation to work over the
last ten years,” noted Fitzpatrick.
Finally, the TIME report said, the alternative for Iran is importing
equipment, but that leaves the product vulnerable to continued
tampering, especially in the shadowy markets of front companies where
Iran has been forced by U.S. and international sanctions to do much
of its business.
“The easiest way to sabotage is to introduce faulty parts into the
inventory from abroad,” Fitzpatrick said. (IsraelNationalNews © 2012
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