US blunder aided Iran's atomic aims, book claimsTags
Julian Borger in Washington
Thursday January 5, 2006
The CIA may have helped Iran to design a nuclear bomb through a botched attempt to channel flawed blueprints to Tehran's weapon designers, according to a new book on the US "war on terror".
In an excerpt from State of War, printed today in G2, the author and New York Times intelligence correspondent, James Risen, writes that the abortive operation misfired when a Russian defector on the CIA payroll, chosen to deliver the deliberately flawed nuclear warhead blueprints to Iranian officials in February 2000, tipped them off about the defects.
The operation, codenamed Merlin and approved by the Clinton administration, was intended to send Iranian scientists down a technological dead end, according to this account. They would spend years building a warhead which would fail to detonate. Instead, Risen writes, the operation may have helped Iran to "accelerate its weapons development" by extracting important information from the blueprints and ignoring the flaws.