PRETORIA, 23 February 2015 (TSR) – The US’s covert war with Iran is being fought across the globe, with countries such as South Africa dragged in despite being bystanders. The leaked spy cables offer a glimpse into US efforts – often undeclared and unreported – to tighten sanctions and hamper Iran’s nuclear progress, including blocking access to scarce mineral resources in Africa, The Guardian also reports.
The world’s foremost superpower and its allies are trying to force Iran to reach a deal on its nuclear programme. The US, Britain and Israel say Tehran is seeking a nuclear weapons capability while the Islamic republic insists it wants to use nuclear energy solely for civilian purposes.
The leaked documents repeatedly stress that South Africa’s National Intelligence Agency does not see Iran as a significant threat to the country. The papers state it has made no serious effort to export the Iranian revolution or stir up Shia Muslim groups in the country, and that it poses no other discernible danger.
Yet the NIA has devoted huge resources to monitoring Iran. One of the biggest dossiers in the spy cable cache is one drafted by the NIA, which is aimed exclusively at Iranian agents. It is called Operational Target Analysis and dated January 2010.
According to an intelligence source with experience of South Africa, the country’s spy agency has responded to US pressure to focus on Iran. South Africa – formally neutral, and a prominent member of the Non-Aligned Movement – finds itself squeezed between wanting to maintain a normal relationship with Iran and the demands of the US and its allies.
The South African Iran dossier, marked secret, is 128 pages long and provides biographical details about every suspected Iranian agent in South Africa. It lists their age, marital status, address, car registration, mobile phones, visits in the country and overseas, people they meet, their career before arriving in South Africa and their personal habits.
A more recent South African intelligence document, which minutes a meeting in the Gulf between senior NIA officials and their UAE counterparts in November 2014, is even more blunt. “Iran’s current involvement in the continent is not enduring or solid as generally accepted but that Africa is rather low on Iran’s list of priorities.”
It added: “Iranian influence in Africa is limited to areas where there are substantial Shia communities: Tanzania, Zanzibar, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Morocco, Senegal, Mauritania, Niger and Guinea.”
But South Africa is unlikely to ignore pressure from the CIA, the world’s most powerful intelligence agency, Britain’s MI6 or Israel’s Mossad. A major part of those agencies’ focus is on Iran’s hunt for alternative sources of uranium in Africa because its own stocks are of poor quality or almost depleted.
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