Spy­ing on Qom

The Washington Times Weekly - - National Security -

Di­rec­tor of Na­tional In­tel­li­gence Den­nis Blair was in Texas on Oct. 21 and praised the ef­forts of the U.S. high-tech­nol­ogy im­agery in­tel­li­gence gath­er­ing com­mu­nity, both gov­ern­ment and pri­vate con­trac­tors, in find­ing Iran’s se­cret nu­clear fa­cil­ity at Qom.

“You can step back and look at the big pic­ture, look at the for­est,” Mr. Blair said dur­ing a speech in San An­to­nio at a con­fer­ence on geospa­tial in­tel­li­gence or GEOINT, as it is known.

“And that’s re­ally what GEOINT is,” he said. “You can zoom down on the trees and in fact you can zoom down on the weeds.”

“If a tree falls in the for­est you and no one hears it, you all can take a pic­ture of it,” Mr. Blair said. “And you have the ev­i­dence. You can look and see if guys like [North Korean leader] Kim Jongil are feel­ing well or left the garage doors open.”

Mr. Blair said among the top pri­or­i­ties for U.S. spy agen­cies is fo­cus­ing on “lead­er­ship in­ten­tions” of ad­ver­saries — both na­tions and groups.

“And the key here is in­te­grated col­lec­tion strate­gies in which we take our most sen­si­tive, our most ad­vanced sys­tems, we put them to­gether and we di­rect them to­ward pro­vid­ing the best in­tel­li­gence we can to sup­port th­ese key pol­icy de­ci­sions.”

A re­cent ex­am­ple was in­tel­li­gence work in iden­ti­fy­ing the Ira­nian ura­nium en­rich­ment fa­cil­ity at Qom, which is built into a moun­tain.

“We have been watch­ing through var­i­ous in­tel­li­gence means this site for a while, and it’s no se­cret that if you’re keep­ing an eye on the build­ing of a large struc­ture, GEOINT is right there at the heart of keep­ing you in­formed and un­der­stand­ing what’s go­ing on.”

Mr. Blair said satel­lite and other pho­tos of the site were com­bined with other in­tel­li­gence de­rived from both hu­man and tech­ni­cal sources so that “we had a good pic­ture ready when the mo­ment turned, as it did at the U.N. Gen­eral As­sem­bly this year, and the pres­i­dent de­cided, with the co­op­er­a­tion of other al­lies, to make pub­lic the fact of this pre­vi­ously hid­den and undis­closed cen­trifuge fa­cil­ity that Iran was build­ing against sev­eral U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil reso­lu­tions [. . . ].”

Bill Gertz cov­ers na­tional se­cu­rity af­fairs. He can be reached at 202/636-3274, or at in­sid­e­ther ing@wash­ing­ton­times.com.

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