“Unstated Factor in Iran Talks: Threat of Nuclear Tampering”
The New York Times, March 22, 2015, p.A1
“In late 2012, just as President Obama and his aides began secretly sketching out a diplomatic opening to Iran, American intelligence agencies were busy with a parallel initiative: The latest spy-vs.-spy move in the decade-long effort to sabotage Tehran’s nuclear infrastructure. … But if negotiators succeed in reaching a deal with Iran, does the huge, covert sabotage effort by the United States, Israel and some European allies come to an end? ‘Probably not,’ said one senior official with knowledge of the program. In fact, a number of officials make the case that surveillance of Iran will intensify and covert action may become more important than ever to ensure that Iran does not import the critical materials that would enable it to accelerate the development of advanced centrifuges or pursue a covert path to a bomb. … It is entirely possible that if an accord is reached, President Obama could call a pause in what has been more than a decade of attacks, the most famous of which was a yearslong effort, code-named Olympic Games, which inserted into Iranian facilities the most sophisticated cyberweapons ever deployed. One of them was the Stuxnet worm that disabled about 1,000 centrifuges, but also spread around the world, revealing the program. But reaching an accord is quite different than reaching a state of trust. Inside Iran, there will be pressure to keep making slow progress on a nuclear program that is central to the ambitions of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and thousands of scientists who have labored for years. And in the uneasy alliance among Israel, the United States and Europe there will be continued debate about whether to supplement diplomatic pressure with covert action to keep Iran from getting to the threshold of being able to build a weapon.”
Quickie analysis: A nuclear deal, even if it happens, may change very little in the short term.