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Did Iranian Spy Clear Tehran of Nuclear Ambitions?

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Juan Cole has a very interesting post about Ali Reza Asghari—former head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Lebanon—who may have been recruited as a spy by a foreign country (the guess is Turkey). Cole also asks:

Some press accounts say that Asghari was able to bring actual documents out with him about Iran’s nuclear program.

So if the Iranians were doing some weapons experiments in 2002, why did they stop?

1. The anti-government Mojahedin-e Khalq terrorist organization, which Saddam Hussein had given a base in Iraq, was able to discover the nuclear research facility at Natanz and to pass information about it not only to Saddam but also to the US. Anything weapons-related was then obviously open to being bombed, and the government may have decided that keeping such experiments covert was too difficult and the possibility of its enemies bombing them too likely, to continue.

2. Having seen what international economic sanctions did to Iraq, reducing it to a fourth world country, the Iranians were afraid of sanctions once Natanz became known.

3. As the US rushed to war against Saddam, Iran’s rulers saw an opportunity for a grand alliance with Washington, and they knew that one quid pro quo would be giving up any ambitions to become a nuclear state.

Thus, the Iranian government’s decision to drop the experiments at Natanz were probably prompted by a combination of discouragement about the likelihood they could be kept secret and an ambition to do what Libya later did and reposition itself in a less adversarial posture toward Washington.

The Iranians must have been astonished when Dick Cheney shot down their overtures.

So why has the Bush administration continued to rattle sabers at Iran all this time.

Why was Cheney conspiring with Neoconservatives on his staff to convince Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to attack the Natanz facilities, in hopes Iran would over-react and give Bush and Cheney a pretext for doing regime change in Tehran?

Why did the Bushies keep leaking to prominent journalist Seymour Hersh the story that Cheney was planning an attack on Iran?

Why did Bush go so far as to say that World War III could only be prevented if Iran was denied the knowledge of how to enrich uranium?

Cheney and Bush have probably known since at least April that Iran has no weapons program.

Irancove @ December 4, 2007

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