US intelligence sources have confirmed Iran’s assertions that a document published by a British daily about Tehran’s nuclear program is a fabrication.
According to a former CIA official, US intelligence agents have found that the document, which was published by the Times of London on December 14, was fabricated by Israel or Britain, the Inter Press Service (IPS) reported on Monday.
The IPS report was penned by renowned investigative journalist Gareth Porter.
Philip Giraldi, who was a CIA counterterrorism official from 1976 to 1992, told IPS that intelligence sources say the US had nothing to do with forging the document.
He added, however, that US intelligence sources mainly suspect Israel of carrying out the forgery, although, they do not rule out the possibility of the British having played a part in it.
The Times article said that Iran had been secretly experimenting on a key component of a nuclear bomb called the "neutron initiator."
Right after the article was published, Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehman-Parast dismissed the report as completely "baseless."
The Times article did not identify the source of the document, but rather quoted comments by "an Asian intelligence source," who claimed that his government believes that Tehran has been working on a neutron initiator since 2007.
"An Asian intelligence source" is a term some news media use to refer to Israeli intelligence officials.
The Times story came just before US politicians and their European allies launched a new round of verbal attacks against Iran, threatening it with tougher sanctions and the possibility of an Israeli military attack.
Porter wrote US media reports have left the impression that US intelligence analysts are confident about the document’s authenticity. This is while it has been widely reported that they have now had a year to assess the issue.
Although Giraldi’s intelligence sources did not reveal all the reasons that led analysts to conclude that the document had been fabricated, they did note that the source of the story itself was suspicious.
"The Rupert Murdoch chain has been used extensively to publish false intelligence from the Israelis and occasionally from the British government," Giraldi said.
Other than The Times, Murdoch’s press empire includes the Sunday Times, Fox News and the New York Post, all of which are known for the strongly pro-Israeli tone they take in their reports.
Porter added that other than its source, the two-page document itself included a number of giveaways that also indicated fraud.
For example, the image of the Farsi-language original of the document, which was also published by the Times lacked any confidentiality marking, although the subject of the document logically put it into the highly classified category.
Furthermore, the document did not include information about the issuing office or the intended recipients. It vaguely referred to "the Centre," "the Institute," "the Committee," and the "neutron group."
The ambiguity was in stark contrast with the concreteness of the plans, which included detailed instructions about recruiting eight individuals for different tasks for very specific numbers of hours and for a four-year time frame.
The vagueness can be explained by reasoning that security markings and identifying information in a forged document would increase the likelihood of potential errors that could expose the fraud.
The absence of any date on the document also conflicted with the rest of the information, which came in detail. The 2007 timeline was only introduced by the Times’ unnamed foreign sources.
A clear motive for suggesting the early 2007 date would be to appease the Israeli government by discrediting the US intelligence community’s November 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, which concluded that Iran was not working on a nuclear bomb.
The biggest reason for discarding the document as fraudulent is its attempt to suggest past Iranian experiments on Polonium-210 for use in a neutron initiator, a claim which was ruled out by the UN nuclear watchdog in a February 2008 report.
This is not the first time that Giraldi has been tipped off by his intelligence sources on forged documents. He was the individual who identified those responsible for the two most notorious forged documents in recent US history.
In 2005, Giraldi identified Michael Ledeen, the extreme right-wing former consultant to the Pentagon, as an author of the fabricated letter, which introduced the allegation that Iraq had tried to purchase uranium from Niger.
That letter gave the administration of former US President George W. Bush the opportunity to claim that Saddam Hussein had an active nuclear weapons program, an allegation that was proven completely false following the invasion of Iraq.
Giraldi also identified officials in the "Office of Special Plans" who worked under Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith as those who forged a letter, allegedly written by a Saddam intelligence aide, about an operation to arrange for an unidentified shipment from Niger.