CIA launched defection program for Iran: report
WASHINGTON, Dec 9 (AFP) Dec 10, 2007
The US Central Intelligence Agency is running a secret program aimed at encouraging Iranians involved in the country's nuclear program to defect to the West, The Los Angeles Times reported on its website Sunday.
Citing unnamed current and former "intelligence officials familiar with the operation," the newspaper said the program called "The Brain Drain" was ordered by the White House in 2005 in hopes of undermining Iran's nuclear weapons program.
The effort achieved only limited success because fewer than six well-placed Iranians have defected, and none has been able to provide good information on Tehran's nuclear program, the report said.
The paper did not identify the defectors. But it said there was speculation of CIA involvement in the apparent defection of a former Iranian deputy defense minister, Ali Reza Asgari, who went missing last February during a visit to Turkey.
Potential defectors have not been approached by the CIA directly, The Times pointed out, citing a former US intelligence official. Rather, the spy agency used other contacts it has cultivated inside Iran, the report said.
Intelligence gathered through the program provided much of the information for last week's National Intelligence Estimate that argued that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003, the paper said.All rights reserved. © 2005 Agence France-Presse. Sections of the information displayed on this page (dispatches, photographs, logos) are protected by intellectual property rights owned by Agence France-Presse. As a consequence, you may not copy, reproduce, modify, transmit, publish, display or in any way commercially exploit any of the content of this section without the prior written consent of Agence France-Presse.