WASHINGTON, Dec. 11 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. State Department assigned a junior Foreign Service officer to find the names of Iranians who could be sanctioned for their involvement in a clandestine nuclear weapons program by using Google, The Washington Post reported Monday.
Those names with the most hits under search terms such as "Iran and nuclear" became targets for international rebuke Friday when a sanctions resolution circulated at the United Nations,
The State Department took the move to search for the names over the Internet after its recent request for the names was rejected by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), which cited such reasons as large workload and a desire to protect its sources and tradecraft, the report said.
None of the 12 Iranians that the State Department eventually singled out for potential bans on international travel and business dealings is believed by the CIA to be directly connected to Iran's most suspicious nuclear activities, according to the Post.
"There is nothing that proves involvement in a clandestine weapons program, and there is very little out there at all that even connects people to a clandestine weapons program," one official familiar with the intelligence on Iran was quoted as saying.
An initial Internet search yielded over 100 names, including dozens of Iranian diplomats who have publicly defended their country's efforts as intended to produce energy, not bombs, the sources said. The list also included names of Iranians who have spoken with UN inspectors or have traveled to Vienna to attend International Atomic Energy Agency meetings about Iran.
It was submitted to the CIA for approval but the agency refused to look up such a large number of people, the report said, citing three government sources.
The State Department then cut the list in half and resubmitted the names, and the CIA approved a handful of individuals, though none is believed connected to Project 1-11 -- Iran's secret military effort to design a weapons system capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, the report said.
The names of Project 1-11 staff members have never been released by any government and doing so may have raised questions that the CIA was not willing or fully able to answer. But the agency had no qualms about approving names already publicly available on the Internet, the report said.