Iran’s “nuclear threat” is far from clear

From the “don’t believe everything you read” department, further evidence that Murdoch’s London paper is pushing spin over Iran’s supposed nuclear capability. Gareth Porter reports:

New revelations about two documents leaked to The Times of London to show that Iran is working on a “nuclear trigger” mechanism have further undermined the credibility of the document the newspaper had presented as evidence of a continuing Iranian nuclear weapons programme.

A columnist for the Times has acknowledged that the two-page Persian language document published by The Times last month was not a photocopy of the original document but an expurgated and retyped version of the original.

A translation of a second Persian language document also published by The Times, moreover, contradicts the claim by The Times that it shows the “nuclear trigger” document was written within an organisation run by an Iranian military scientist.

Former Central Intelligence Agency official Philip Giraldi has said U.S. intelligence judges the “nuclear trigger” document to be a forgery, as IPS reported last week. The IPS story also pointed out that the document lacked both security markings and identification of either the issuing organisation or the recipient.

The new revelations point to additional reasons why intelligence analysts would have been suspicious of the “nuclear trigger” document.

On Dec. 14, The Times published what it explicitly represented as a photocopy of a complete Persian language document showing Iranian plans for testing a neutron initiator, a triggering device for a nuclear weapon, along with an English language translation.

But in response to a reader who noted the absence of crucial information from the document, including security markings, Oliver Kamm, an online columnist for The Times, admitted Jan. 3 that the Persian language document published by The Times was “a retyped version of the relevant parts of that original document”.

Kamm wrote that the original document had “contained a lot of classified information” and was not published “because of the danger that it would alert Iranian authorities to the source of the leak”.

In offering the explanation of the intelligence agency that leaked the document to The Times, Kamm was also damaging the credibility of the document. A document that had been both edited and retyped could obviously have been doctored by adding material on a neutron initiator.