American daily Wall Street Journal had said it clear six months ago: The Central Intelligence Agency has established an organization in Iran aimed at spying on the Islamic Republic.
“The Central Intelligence Agency has established an organization focused exclusively on gathering and analyzing intelligence about Iran, reflecting the Trump administration’s decision to make that country a higher priority target for American spies,” the WSJ reported last June, citing US officials.
The report said that the mission center “will bring together analysts, operations personnel and specialists from across the CIA to bring to bear the range of the agency’s capabilities, including covert action.”
The CIA did not announce at that time the Iran Mission Center, but it likened it Korea Mission Center that the CIA announced earlier in May to address North Korea’s efforts to develop long-range nuclear missiles.
Talking more about the move, the report described CIA Director Mike Pompeo as a longtime Iran hawk, citing his first public remarks since taking the helm at the spy agency, when he warned that Iran was “on the march.”
“Whether its enormous increased capacity to deliver missile systems into Israel from Hezbollah, their increased strength in and around Mosul with the Shia militias, the work that they’ve done to support the Houthis to fire missiles against the Saudis—the list of Iranian transgressions has increased dramatically since the date that the JCPOA was signed,” WSJ quoted Pompeo as saying then, referring the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the 2015 agreement that Iran struck with the US and other world powers to limit its nuclear program.
“We’re actively engaged in a lot of work to assist the president, making sure he has an understanding of where the Iranians are complying and where they might not be,” the reported quoted Pompeo as saying at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington in April.
The report also quoted Mark Lowenthal, a former senior CIA official as saying that the center in Iran was an effort by the agency to bring all its experts together in one place, from the spies who gather information to the analysts who make sense of it.
“We know that combining [intelligence] collectors and analysts together you end up with better analysis and better operations,” Lowenthal said, noting that the center model has been used successfully in other areas.