Why US won't fully answer skeptics of Iran assassination plot
US diplomats want more information about Iran's involvement to be made public, to answer skeptics. But intelligence officials balk at revealing much more about assassination plot evidence.
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While US diplomats would like to see more of the evidence made public as part of the push to get tough with Iran, intelligence officials are balking at any more public disclosures of evidence, for their own serious reasons.
The result, some officials and analysts say, is that the US is unlikely to be able to make a convincing case for international action in venues where it would count most, such as the United Nations Security Council.
“It’s the classic Catch-22, where you have people in the US government who have the ammunition to make a case, in this case for serious action against Iran, but they don’t have the ability to expend that ammunition to draw in the key parties,” says Wayne White, a former senior official with the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research.
“Regardless of how sound the evidence may be, the Russians and the Chinese are going to be skeptical and are going to demand lots in the way of detailed evidence,” he adds, “and they aren’t going to be given it.”
Obama administration officials say evidence linking the plot to Iran is solid, and a number of foreign diplomats and other officials – for example, members of Congress – who have had access to the evidence say it is largely convincing.
But the kind of evidence that might help convince the large number of skeptics in the US and abroad of the Iranian government’s involvement in the plot is unlikely to be shared much farther that it already has been, some administration officials say. That’s because intelligence officials refuse to allow access to the information, and especially to the most sensitive components of it, spread more widely, for several reasons:
- Divulging the information could compromise and potentially endanger sources.
- Making sensitive intelligence public could jeopardize legal proceedings against alleged criminals in the case, as in the case under way in a New York court.
- Divulging information now could hamper future intelligence-gathering on Iran, and intelligence agencies are unlikely to be willing to make that trade.