Israeli agents 'waging secret war against Iran'
Israel has launched an elaborate covert war against Iran as an alternative to direct military strikes against Tehran's nuclear programme, US intelligence sources have claimed.
The country is using hitmen, sabotage, front companies and double agents to disrupt the regime's weapons project, say experts.
One element of the programme is said to be the planned assassination or "decapitation" of figures involved in the country's atomic operations.
Israeli officials are aware of the change in mood in Washington and privately acknowledge that the new US administration is unlikely to sanction an air attack on Iran's nuclear installations. The aim is to slow or interrupt Iran's research programme without a direct confrontation that could lead to a wider war.
One former CIA operative said: "Disruption is designed to slow progress on the programme, done in such a way they don't realise what's happening.
"The goal is delay, delay, delay until you can come up with some other solution or approach.
"We certainly don't want the current Iranian government to have those weapons. It's a good policy, short of taking them out militarily, which probably carries unacceptable risks."
Reva Bhalla, a senior analyst with Stratfor, a US private intelligence company with strong government security connections, claimed that the strategy was to target key people. "With co-operation from the United States, Israeli covert operations have focused both on eliminating key human assets involved in the nuclear programme and in sabotaging the Iranian nuclear supply chain," she said.
"As US-Israeli relations are bound to come under strain over the Obama administration's outreach to Iran, and as the political atmosphere grows in complexity, an intensification of Israeli covert activity against Iran is likely to result."
The Israeli spy agency Mossad was rumoured to be behind the death of Ardeshire Hassanpour, a nuclear scientist at Iran's Isfahan uranium plant, who died from reported gas poisoning in 2007.
Other recent deaths of prominent figures in the procurement and enrichment process in Iran and Europe have been the result of Israeli "hits".
Israeli intelligence and government sources declined to comment. (© Daily Telegraph, London).