IIASA and Richard Perle

For a substantial part of my Foreign Service career, while Reagan was President, I frequently crossed swords with Richard Perle at the Pentagon.  He was much superior to me.  He was an assistant secretary of Defense; for much of this time I was a junior officer at the State Department.  However, I often worked on technology transfer issues, and Perle was very interested in technology transfer issues, especially as they related to the old Soviet Union.  He always kept an eagle eye on CoCom, the old Coordinating Committee that regulated technology transfers from Western, allied countries to the Soviet Union.


My first brush with him must have been shortly after Reagan was elected and Perle was installed at the Pentagon.  I got a call from the science advisor to the State Department Under Secretary who handled technology transfers.  He said that Perle was cutting America’s support for and participation in IIASA.


IIASA is the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria.  (IIASA web site, and IIASA Wikipedia entry.)  In the Cold War 1980s its mission was to promote cooperation between scientists from Western and Communist countries.  Perle was apparently concerned that it might be a conduit for uncontrolled technology transfer from the West to the East.  It was such an innocuous, academic institution that this seemed ridiculous.  The Under Secretary’s science advisor and I tried to stop Perle from blocking US participation, but as I recall, we failed.


The good news is that IIASA survived and is still going today, with a broader mandate, since the old bipolar Cold War has ended.  It was my introduction to Richard Perle, who always seemed to be on the opposite side of issues that we were both interested in, from East-West technology transfers to third world transfers involving nuclear proliferation or other high tech problems.

Reagan, Carter, Casey and the Ayatollahs

I was in a meeting with Bill Casey not long after he became head of the CIA.  I had been the State Department representative working on NIE-11-12-80 (CIA link to it is here – http://www.foia.cia.gov/document/0000261310 ) regarding Soviet military science and technology.  Reagan was elected more or less while we were working on it.  The chief CIA honcho was a guy named Jan Herring, who is apparently still around (link – http://www.academyci.com/jan-herring/ ).  He and CIA deputy director Admiral Bobby Inman quit abruptly about the time of the election and the naming of Bill Casey to be CIA director.

There were of course many military types working on the NIE (National Intelligence Estimate), and I was the lone working level State Department rep.  After a while I got concerned that the hawks were going nuts finding new technological ways the Soviets were going to kill us in our beds, and I started to push back and say that we can’t be sure that this unusual frequency or substance is being developed to use as a super weapon.  And I found the CIA was supporting me, although they wouldn’t take the lead in opposing the military.  However, after Jan Herring left and Casey came in, there was no hope of toning down the Estimate.  In addition the State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research usually is headed by a senior Foreign Service officer, but at this time it was headed by a senior CIA official on loan.  He was not about to take a stand against the new man who was going to be his boss when he returned to the CIA.  So, at the big, final meeting with Casey to approve the NIE (which I attended), he did not make any waves about State Department concerns.  Casey really did mumble; I could not understand a lot of what he said.  I would like to think some of the “alternative view” language in the NIE was due to me, but after 35 years, who knows where it came from.

Anyway, I like to think that Reagan’s election was orchestrated by the Iranian ayatollahs, rather than the ayatollahs being manipulated by the Reagan campaign.  There is a movie about the “Manchurian Candidate.”  I think Reagan was the “Iranian Candidate.”  The Iranians hated Carter for letting the Shah come to the US for medical treatment when he was dying.  They wanted “anybody but Carter.”  If Carter had rescued the hostages there is some chance that he might have been elected, because he would have appeared a stronger, rather than a weaker (“malaise”) President.  Reagan probably would have won anyway, but who knows?

I saw Carter recently when he came to Denver to sign copies of his new book, “A Full Life.”  I bought one and he signed it.  Recently someone asked him if he had any regrets, and he said one was the failed rescue mission, because if it had not failed, he might have been re-elected.  The Iranian hostages were a major factor in the election.  Incidentally, one of the hostages was a classmate of mine in the A-100 class.  This is the group of 40 or 50 officers that you come in with and there is a 6 or 9 month orientation, and then you can kind of keep track of your classmates to see who becomes the first ambassador, who goes the highest, etc.  Several of my classmates became ambassadors, but I didn’t make it.

Second Letter to Congressional Representatives

As the date for voting on the Iran nuclear deal approaches, please note that despite the split of public opinion on the issue, the vast majority of those knowledgeable about the issue support the deal. A number of military officers, scientists and diplomats have publicly weighed in on the issue, and in almost all cases they favor approval of the deal. I urge you to support the deal.

Three dozen retired generals and admirals have written an open letter supporting the nuclear deal and urging Congress to do the same. They called the agreement “the most effective means currently available to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.” (https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/retired-generals-and-admirals-back-iran-nuclear-deal/2015/08/11/bd26f6ae-4045-11e5-bfe3-ff1d8549bfd2_story.html and http://apps.washingtonpost.com/g/documents/world/read-an-open-letter-from-retired-generals-and-admirals-on-the-iran-nuclear-deal/1689/)

Twenty-nine top American scientists have written President Obama supporting approval of the deal. Many of those who signed have worked on America’s nuclear weapons program; some were Nobel laureates. The New York Times notes that many of the scientists hold Department of Energy “Q” clearances allowing access to sensitive technical information about nuclear weapons. I held a “Q” clearance when I was a State Department Foreign Service officer, because I worked on nuclear non-proliferation issues. (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/09/world/29-us-scientists-praise-iran-nuclear-deal-in-letter-to-obama.html and http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/08/08/world/document-iranletteraug2015.html)

Finally, many of my former State Department colleagues have written supporting the agreement. A letter to President Obama signed by more than 100 former American ambassadors stated, “If properly implemented, the comprehensive and rigorously negotiated agreement can be an effective instrument in arresting Iran’s nuclear program and preventing the spread of nuclear weapons in the volatile and vitally important region of the Middle East.” I served with a number of the ambassadors signing the letter, some when we were young junior officers together; others were ambassadors under whom I served overseas. I have recently been corresponding about this issue with Amb. Dennis Jett, who signed the letter. (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/17/us/politics/former-us-diplomats-praise-iran-deal.html and http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/07/16/us/politics/document-american-ambassadors-letter.html)

I hope that you will take the views of these experts who favor the Iran nuclear deal into consideration in your deliberations. In addition, they represent the views of many others from their professions, like myself. I believe that it will make the world, the United States, and the Middle East, including Israel, safer. It will significantly restrict Iran’s nuclear activities, and it will provide ten to fifteen years of breathing space in which to work out the next steps for preventing further nuclear proliferation in the region.

Sen. Gardner’s Reply re Iran Deal

Thank you for contacting me regarding Iran. I appreciate you taking the time to write. It is an honor to serve you in the United States Senate and I hope you will continue to write with your thoughts and ideas on moving our country forward.

Concern about Iran’s nuclear weapons capabilities has been growing for over a decade. In 2002, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) first discovered that Iran was engaging in a variety of nuclear activities, which violated its obligations as a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The international community has since pressured Iran to discontinue these activities through both diplomacy and sanctions. After twenty months of negotiations, a deal was reached between Iran and the six P5+1 countries, which include the United States, France, Germany, China, Russia, and the United Kingdom. The parameters of this agreement are outlined in a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA).

The more details we learn about the deal, the worse it seems. Reports indicate that this deal accomplishes none of the goals it should, nor the goals the negotiations began with. It would make Iran a globally approved nuclear threshold state. It would endanger our closest ally in the region, Israel. The sanctions relief in the deal would give Iran billions to pour into continued international terror operations. Full access to all of Iran’s undeclared nuclear facilities or military facilities where nuclear work may be conducted is the only way to ensure Iran’s compliance with the JCPA. In this agreement, however, inspectors must wait at least 24 days before they can set foot on these sites, which is far from the Administration’s promise of “anytime, anywhere” inspections. Iran remains the largest state sponsor of terror in the world and continues to provide weapons and supplies to terrorist groups that have killed Americans, such as Hezbollah or Iran-backed militants in Iraq. Furthermore, despite the advice our military leaders, such as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey, this deal lifts the current conventional arms embargo against Iran in five years and lifts sanctions on Iran’s ballistic missile program after eight years, allowing Iran to become an even bigger threat to the region.

There is no doubt that a nuclear-armed Iran would destabilize an already volatile region and directly threaten our U.S. national security and that of our close allies, such as Israel. Ever since its statehood, Israel has been a shining light for democracy in a politically unstable region. Iran’s regime, however, refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist and has repeatedly said that it plans to “wipe Israel off the map”. It is imperative that we do everything we can to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon and from becoming nuclear-capable. That means doubling down on the sanctions that brought Iran to the table in the first place and working to enact a deal like the President originally promised: one that prevents Iran from ever obtaining a nuclear weapon rather than putting them on the glide path to a bomb in a few short years. We must also continue to provide all the support we can toward Israel. Standing by Israel is one of my top priorities in Congress. The American people and the world deserve a better deal. Congress should reject this deal and deliver on the promises made at the outset of these negotiations.

Again, thank you for contacting me, and do not hesitate to do so again when an issue is important to you.



Cory Gardner
United States Senator