An investigation of supposed Iranian nuclear documents presented in a dramatically staged Netanyahu press conference indicates they were an Israeli fabrication designed to trigger US military conflict with Iran.
by Gareth Porter
Part 4 - The second coming of fake missile drawings
Among the documents Netanyahu flashed on the screen in his April 30, 2018 slide show was a schematic drawing of the missile reentry vehicle of an Iranian Shahab-3 missile, showing what was obviously supposed to represent a nuclear weapon inside.
This drawing was part of a set of eighteen technical drawings of the Shahab-3 reentry vehicle. These were found in a collection of documents secured over the course of several years between the Bush II and Obama administrations by an Iranian spy working for Germany’s BND intelligence service. Or so the Israeli official story went.
In 2013, however, a former senior German Foreign Office official named Karsten Voigt revealed to this writer that the documents had been initially provided to German intelligence by a member of the Mujaheddin E-Khalq (MEK).
The MEK is an exiled Iranian armed opposition organization that had operated under Saddam Hussein’s regime as a proxy against Iran during the Iran-Iraq War. It went on to cooperate with the Israeli Mossad beginning in the 1990s, and enjoys a close relationship with Saudi Arabia as well. Today, numerous former US officials are on the MEK’s payroll, acting as de facto lobbyists for regime change in Iran.
Voigt recalled how senior BND officials warned him they did not consider the MEK source or the materials he provided to be credible. They were worried that the Bush administration intended to use the dodgy documents to justify an attack on Iran, just as it exploited the tall tales collected from Iraqi defector codenamed “Curveball” to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
As this writer first reported in 2010, the appearance of the “dunce-cap” shape of the Shahab-3 reentry vehicle in the drawings was a tell-tale sign that the documents were fabricated. Whoever drew those schematic images in 2003 was clearly under the false impression that Iran was relying on the Shahab-3 as its main deterrent force. After all, Iran had announced publicly in 2001 that the Shahab-3 was going into “serial production” and in 2003 that it was “operational.”
But those official claims by Iran were a ruse aimed primarily at deceiving Israel, which had threatened air attacks on Iran’s nuclear and missile programs. In fact, Iran’s Defense Ministry was aware that the Shahab-3 did not have sufficient range to reach Israel.
According to Michael Elleman, the author of the most definitive account of the Iranian missile program, as early as 2000, Iran’s Defense Ministry had begun developing an improved version of the Shahab-3 with a reentry vehicle boasting a far more aerodynamic “triconic baby bottle” shape – not the “dunce-cap” of the original.
As Elleman told this writer, however, foreign intelligence agencies remained unaware of the new and improved Shahab missile with a very different shape until it took its first flight test in August 2004. Among the agencies kept in the dark about the new design was Israel’s Mossad. That explains why the false documents on redesigning the Shahab-3 – the earliest dates of which were in 2002, according to an unpublished internal IAEA document – showed a reentry vehicle design that Iran had already discarded.
The role of the MEK in passing the massive tranche of supposed secret Iranian nuclear documents to the BND and its hand-in-glove relationship with the Mossad leaves little room for doubt that the documents introduced to Western intelligence 2004 were, in fact, created by the Mossad.
For the Mossad, the MEK was a convenient unit for outsourcing negative press about Iran which it did not want attributed directly to Israeli intelligence. To enhance the MEK’S credibility in the eyes foreign media and intelligence agencies, Mossad passed the coordinates of Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility to the MEK in 2002. Later, it provided to the MEK personal information such as the passport number and home telephone number of Iranian physics professor Mohsen Fakhrizadh, whose name appeared in the nuclear documents, according to the co-authors of a best-selling Israeli book on the Mossad’s covert operations.
By trotting out the same discredited technical drawing depicting the wrong Iranian missile reentry vehicle – a trick he had previously deployed to create the original case for accusing Iran of covert nuclear weapons development – the Israeli prime minister showed how confident he was in his ability to hoodwink Washington and the Western corporate media.
Netanyahu’s multiple levels of deception have been remarkably successful, despite having relied on crude stunts that any diligent news organization should have seen through. Through his manipulation of foreign governments and media, he has been able to maneuver Donald Trump and the United States into a dangerous process of confrontation that has brought the US to the precipice of military conflict with Iran.