Operation Merlin

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Nuclear power in Iran

Operation Merlin is an alleged United States covert operation under the Clinton Administration to provide Iran with a flawed design for building a nuclear weapon in order to delay the alleged Iranian nuclear weapons program.


In his book State of War, author and intelligence correspondent for The New York Times, James Risen claims that the CIA chose a defected Russian nuclear scientist to provide deliberately flawed nuclear warhead blueprints to Iranian officials in February 2000.[1] Risen wrote in his book that President Clinton had approved the operation and that the Bush administration endorsed the plan.[1][2]


Operation Merlin backfired when the nervous Russian scientist noticed the flaws and pointed them out to the Iranians, hoping to enhance his credibility and to protect himself against retaliation by the Iranians, while still advancing what he thought was the CIA plan to use him as a double agent inside Iran.[3] Instead, the book alleges, Operation Merlin may have accelerated Iran's nuclear program by providing useful information, once the flaws were identified, and the plans compared with other sources, such as those presumed to have been provided to the Iranians by A. Q. Khan.[3]

Indictment of former CIA-officer[edit]

In late 2010, former CIA-officer Jeffrey Alexander Sterling was indicted for allegedly being a source for some of the information in Risen's book.[4]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ a b Risen, James (2006-01-03). State of War : The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration. Free Press. ISBN 978-0-7432-7066-3. 
  2. ^ Borger, Julian (2006-01-05). "US blunder aided Iran's atomic aims, book claims". London: Guardian Unlimited. Archived from the original on 2012-10-25. Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  3. ^ a b Risen, James (2006-01-05). "George Bush insists that Iran must not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons. So why, six years ago, did the CIA give the Iranians blueprints to build a bomb?". London: Guardian Unlimited. Archived from the original on 2014-04-01. Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  4. ^ Isikoff, Michael (2011-01-06). "Ex-CIA Officer Charged with Leak to Reporter". NBC New York. Retrieved 2011-01-07.