Monday, February 27, 2012

The New WikiLeaks Publication and Iran’s Nuclear Program

WikiLeaks has been one of the most controversial organizations in the world during the last year. The site has published a long number of controversial documents over the years including
• The Climate Gate E-Mails concerning the subject of Global Warming
• The Afghan War Diaries
• Secret Files from Guantanamo Bay
• The Cablegate with the publishing of secret US Diplomatic Cables

Today WikiLeaks has released around 200-emails from the Private Security Firm Stratfor. In the end of the last year Stratfor was hacked by a group that is believed to be Anonymous; in the initial media reports the event was described largely as an attempt to steal credit card numbers but it has become clear that 5 million e-mails from the company also were obtained. Today WikiLeaks made the announcement that they will start publishing some of the e-mails in cooperation with a number of different newspapers including The Rolling Stone and The Sunday Star Times.

There has been an enormous controversy surrounding WikiLeaks and its founder this year; Julian Assange is currently in Great Britain awaiting a possible extradition to Sweden for two alleged cases of Rape and Bradley Manning how is believed to have leaked information to WikiLeaks is currently being court marshaled after being under military custody since May 2010 when he was arrested in Iraq. Assange has been portrayed as terrorist by some and as a hero by others.

Iran’s Nuclear Program
One of the hottest subjects during the last period of time has been Iran’s nuclear program. It’s believed by some that Iran’s program that the country is claiming is an attempt to create a civilian program for nuclear power may also be an attempt of constructing nuclear bombs. The European Union has decided to impose sanctions against Iran and stop oil imports from Iran.

Iran currently exports just over 2 million barrels of oil per day of the around 4 mb/d they produce per day (World Energy Outlook 2011: p 134-135). Iran’s Oil Production Peak around 1970 with a production of over 5 million barrels per day and the country still has 10% of the world reported oil reserves. From this perspective Iran’s effort to invest in nuclear power seems natural since it will allow the country to export more of its declining oil production instead of using it to produce electricity for their own population. The Iranian production of electricity does not provide enough power for entire nation; it is currently estimated that 25% of the villages in Iran lack the access to electricity.

In the media there has been steady reports concerning the situation and fears that Israel might launch an attack against Iran’s nuclear program like it did against the Iraqi Osirak Reactor in 1981 and as it did in 2007 against a facility in Syria. In the recent e-mails from WikiLeaks a surprising series of e-mails has emerged.

Israeli Attacks against Iran’s Nuclear Facilities?
The discussion in the media has largely circulated against the Israeli capability to carry out an airstrike against the facilities in Iran but today information has become available that suggest that attacks against facilities in Iran might already have taken place. In a series of e-mails an alleged Israeli source has provided information that suggested that

Source below was asked to clarify his remarks that the nuclear
infrastructure had been destroyed. Source response:

Israeli commandos in collaboration with Kurd forces destroyed
few underground facilities mainly used for the Iranian defense
and nuclear research projects.”
This statement can also be linked to a number of media reports; a report from BBC the 12th of November 2011 shows a satellite picture where extensive damage to buildings being explained as an explosion in an ammunition depot by officials from Iran killing 17 soldiers. In the e-mails from Stratfor the discussion regarding the implications of this information continues:

In the open media many are pushing and expecting Israel to
launch a massive attack on Iran. Even if the Israelis have the
capabilities and are ready to attack by air, sea and land, there
is no need to attack the nuclear program at this point after the
commandos destroyed a significant part of it.”
According to the e-mails the source was also asked regarding if he believed that Israel was planning a military attack against Iran and the answer was

"Source was asked what he thought of reports that the Israelis
were preparing a military offensive against Iran. Response:

I think this is a diversion. The Israelis already destroyed
all the Iranian nuclear infrastructure on the ground weeks
ago. The current "let's bomb Iran" campaign was ordered by the
EU leaders to divert the public attention from their at home
financial problems. It plays also well for the US since
Pakistan, Russia and N. Korea are mentioned in the report."
The information in this series of e-mails is very interesting and raises a number of questions
• Has Iran’s Nuclear Program been damaged or destroyed by Israeli forces?
• How can it be that a non state actor can get their hands on this type of Intelligence from personnel working within state Intelligence Agencies?
• What type of implication will there be now when this information has become public?

Conclusion
It’s very hard to assess if the new information provided by WikiLeaks is real. It’s also hard to know if the source that was discussed in these e-mails were actually telling the truth. But some the information provided in the e-mails match other data and news reports adding to the credibility that it is. In my opinion this type of information is controversial since it causes trouble for public and private actors around the world; but it also provides the public and media with a rare opportunity to get insights into what might be going on behind the scene. Weapons of Mass Destruction are a very sensitive subject and were one of the main arguments supporting the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The other trend with the Privatization of Security in the form of Private Military Companies (PMC) and Private Security Companies (PSC) is a very important trend that is not often discussed in the media. In this case the leakage of information seems to have occurred twice; first from someone working within the Israeli Intelligence Community to the private company Stratfor and later from the hacking of Stratfor.

After the terrorist attacks of 9/11 2001 one of the criticisms was that the American Intelligence Agencies did not share enough information; the many report published by WikiLeaks show that opening up this type of systems can make them very vulnerable when individuals and group can get their hands on this information and make it public. It also raises the subject concerning how often this happens but never becomes public.

Also see:
Peak Oil and Our Mental Models - The WikiLeaks Cable and the Worlds Largest Oil Fields

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