Trump ramps up secret plan to sabotage Iran’s nuclear missile program

The New York Times reports that Trump has stepped up secret American program to sabotage Iran’s missiles and rockets.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

The Trump administration has “accelerated a secret American program to sabotage Iran’s missiles and rockets,” The New York Times reported Wednesday, part of a growing effort to undermine the Islamic Republic’s military and economy.

The New York Times report was prompted by two launch failures by Iran — one on Jan. 15 that the country acknowledged and another, on Feb. 15, that Iran kept under wraps.

The Times notes that these failures follow an 11-year pattern. “In that time, 67 percent of Iranian orbital launches have failed, an astonishingly high number compared to a 5 percent failure rate worldwide for similar space launches,” the Times reports.

The newspaper learned, through discussions with over half a dozen current and former government officials who worked on the secret sabotage program, that the plan started under President George W. Bush, and the goal was to push defective parts into Iran’s aerospace supply chain.

Under the Obama administration, the program was reduced, but since Mike Pompeo became secretary of state, it has been given new life, the paper reports.

The program is reminiscent of the effort to delay Iran’s nuclear weapons development through the Stuxnet virus. According to a September 2010 Haaretz report, Iran analysts and computer specialists were increasingly convinced that Stuxnet was meant “to sabotage the uranium enrichment facility at Natanz – where the centrifuge operational capacity had dropped over the past year by 30 percent.”

The Obama administration later revealed that Stuxnet was a joint U.S.-Israel operation to disable Iran’s nuclear program.

Stuxnet, however, was only one part of former President Bush’s plan, which followed two tracks, according to the Times. Stuxnet belonged to the first – finding ways to undermine the nuclear materials. The second focused on sabotaging Iran’s ability to deliver those nuclear materials, namely missiles.

According to the Times, “The CIA, with help from the National Security Agency, searched for ways to subvert factories, supply chains and launchers.

“It did not take much, according to officials from both the Bush and Obama administrations. Flight disruption could take no more than a small design change in a critical valve, a modest alteration in an engine part or guidance system, or a contaminated alloy for making launcher fins, crucial for aerodynamic stability.”

Eventually, the U.S. decided that the focus of  their efforts should be on undercutting Iran’s test launches.

Secretary Pompeo, who has injected new energy into the sabotage program, is an ideal candidate to lead the effort, having graduated from West Point with a degree in mechanical engineering, and co-founded Thayer Aerospace, a supplier for Boeing, Lockheed and Raytheon, the Times notes.

Iran is aware of the effort to derail its missile development. In 2016, Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the head of Iran’s missile program, said America and its allies “want to repeat their nuclear sabotage in the missile area.”

Despite U.S. successes, Iran remains undeterred and continues to ramp up its missile efforts. America appears prepared to meet that challenge by upping the game in its sabotage efforts. It remains to be seen which side will ultimately prevail.