May 3, 2007

Was Mousavian A Western Mole?

The arrest of former nuclear negotiator Hossein Mousavian has people scratching their heads, as I noted yesterday. Now the Guardian reports that Iranian authorities have charged Mousavian with leaking secrets from the Iranian nuclear program to the West:

A senior Iranian diplomat who played a prominent role in negotiations on the country's nuclear programme was arrested in Tehran on security charges, it was reported yesterday.

Hossein Mousavian was taken from his home on Monday by security officials and charged with passing on information on Iran's nuclear industry, the news agency IRNA reported, without saying who allegedly received the information.

Mr Mousavian had served as the deputy head of the Iranian delegation in talks with the west on Tehran's nuclear ambitions, and had also been ambassador to Germany. Since the election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad he had left the government, and was working at a Tehran thinktank at the time of his detention.

The West has received better intel on the Iranian program over the last few years, ever since the extent of the Iranian deception has been revealed. A former negotiator would make a good source, but not necessarily a great one. The failure of the EU-3 to make any headway in negotiations would argue against Mousavian as a mole at that time (or demonstrate a level of incompetence in the European effort), and he would have even less to say about the nuclear program after he left the diplomatic service.

It's more likely that Mousavian is a pawn in a power struggle between two factions of Iranians. Mousavian is a protege of Hashemi Rafsanjani, whom rumors have attempting to form a coalition among the ruling elite against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Rafsanjani has one of the largest fortunes in Iran, and his son already has some problems surrounding the acceptance of bribes from the West in the oil business. Ahmadinejad and his allies may be looking to show that Rafsanjani has ties to traitors as well as corruption, and Mousavian would make a fairly safe patsy for the ruling clique under Ahmadinejad.

Why now? So-called centrists in Teheran, for whom Rafsanjani provides leadership, want Iran to engage with the US at the Sharm el-Sheikh conference this week. Arresting Mousavian may relieve the pressure on Ahmadinejad by discrediting the centrists ahead of the meeting. It allows Ahmedinejad and the mullahs who prop him up as president to continue their policy of provocation with the West.

If so, then Mousavian had better hope for a change of government very soon. Otherwise, he's probably a dead man.


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Comments (2)

Posted by reliapundit - the astute blogger [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 3, 2007 7:21 AM


Posted by rbj [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 3, 2007 8:33 AM

But, but, but Iran's nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only. President Tom told us so. They shouldn't have anything to fear about a spy leaking what's really going on.