The Bottom Line on Iran’s Nuclear Program

by Dec 17, 2009Foreign Policy0 comments

A headline in today’s London Times: Iran condemned by Western leaders over test of long-range missile There was, unsurprisingly, no similar headline in the West reading anything like: Israel condemned by Western leaders over test of long-range UAV But a headline in the Jerusalem Post just a few days ago read: Elbit tests UAV that […]

A headline in today’s London Times:

Iran condemned by Western leaders over test of long-range missile

There was, unsurprisingly, no similar headline in the West reading anything like:

Israel condemned by Western leaders over test of long-range UAV

But a headline in the Jerusalem Post just a few days ago read:

Elbit tests UAV that can reach Iran

That article reported that Israel has a new UAV that could carry out surveillance over Iran (such as in preparation for an airstrike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, and which is also capable of carrying a payload of up to 300 kilograms.

The Times article reports:

Western governments united to denounce Iran’s test-firing of a long-range ballistic missile yesterday, warning that it would only increase international determination to press for more sanctions on Tehran if it refused to negotiate over its nuclear programme.

The extended range of 1,200 miles puts not only targets across the Middle East within striking distance but also reaches southeastern Europe. The new solid-fuel missile is also believed to have greater accuracy than previous models, which were capable of hitting Israel.

The implication is that Iran might use the missile to attack Israel. A bit further on, we read this not insignificant fact (emphasis added):

Israel, which has repeatedly threatened to take military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities, declined to comment on the test.

The U.S. response was summarized by National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer, who said:

At a time when the international community has offered Iran opportunities to begin to build trust and confidence, Iran’s missile tests only undermine Iran’s claims of peaceful intentions.

Again, the implication is that Iran intends to use this missile to commit an act of aggression. The Times continues (emphasis added):

The US and its allies fear that Iran is covertly developing the technology to produce a nuclear weapon, and fear that its long-range missiles could be used to deliver them.

Israel considers a nuclear Iran a threat to its very existence after President Ahmadinejad called for it to be eliminated, and has repeatedly threatened to take military action against Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, a move most Western countries are desperate to avert. Israel has refused to rule out an attack should international sanctions against Iran fail to have the desired effect.

Iran has threatened to bomb Israel’s civilian nuclear reactors if it is attacked.trans

The line, “Ahmadinejad called for it to be eliminated” suggests Iran has threatened Israel militarily. That is absolutely false. The reference is to the commonly reported claim that Ahmadinejad threatened to “wipe Israel off the map”. Besides being a questionable translation of what he actually said, and besides the remark being contained within a quote from Ayatollay Khomeini, the context of the Iranian President’s comment was the need for oppressive regimes to fall. What is never reported is that he included Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and the Shah’s Iran along with Israel as examples of oppressive regimes that also deserved to be “wiped from the map”, so-to-speak.

As for military threats, it is Israel that is threatening Iran, and not vice versa. Iran has merely stated that it would defend itself and launch a counterattack upon Israel in the event that Israel attacks Iran.

As the New York Times reported in a lead sentence of uncharacteristic candor (emphasis added):

Iran announced Wednesday that it had test-fired an improved version of its most advanced missile, one capable of reaching Israel and parts of Europe, a move that appeared aimed at discouraging a military attack on its nuclear sites and to defy Western pressure over its nuclear program.

The London Times article, in an attempt to portray Iran’s nuclear program as one intended to allow the country to produce a nuclear weapon, concludes by adding:

The test of the Sejil-2 came as the US said that it would investigate a report in The Times that Iran had been working on a trigger for a nuclear weapon, citing it as part of a growing pattern of Iran’s deception over its nuclear programme.

The revelations were contained in confidential intelligence documents that were obtained by The Times and which foreign intelligence agencies date to early 2007 — four years after US agencies assessed that Iran had suspended efforts to produce nuclear weapons.

Notice this is reported as though it were verified fact. It is not. The Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) had this to say about the Times’ reports on this document (emphasis added):

Some have characterized this document as a smoking gun on Iran’s weaponization activities.  It might in fact be that.  But ISIS urges caution and further assessment of this document, in particular to confirm the document’s date and with how the document fits with other information regarding Iran’s nuclear weaponization activities both prior to 2003 and any work afterwards.

And in another moment of uncharacteristic candor, the New York Times reported (emphasis added):

For many months now, American and European intelligence agencies have been trading theories about a spare, two-page document written in Persian that, if genuine, would strongly suggest that scientists in Iran were planning some of the final experiments needed to perfect an atom bomb.

But like so many pieces of evidence in the West’s confrontation with Tehran, the neatly written memorandum, laying out the next steps of a complex scientific process, raises as many questions as it answers.

Intelligence officials say they have yet to authenticate the document, which describes research Iran would need to conduct on an advanced technology to detonate a nuclear weapon, if it was to develop one. Even if the paper is genuine, they say, it is unclear if it provides new insights into the state of Iran’s weapons research.

Notice this document has been known about for quite some time, “For many months now”. It’ seems fairly likely this is among the documents, by some accounts obtained from a laptop computer smuggled out of Iran, that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) refers to in its reports as “the alleged studies” (notice the adjective).

Whatever its origins, it apparently has not caused U.S. intelligence analysts to change their assessment in a 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) that Iran ended its nuclear weapons program in 2003 — an assessment Newsweek reported in September the intelligence community was standing by.

The London Times, in it’s initial reporting on this document, noted that the IAEA had also been aware of the document. It apparently did not cause them to alter their assessment of Iran’s nuclear program, either, as evidenced by this statement they released in September (emphasis added):

With respect to a recent media report, the IAEA reiterates that it has no concrete proof that there is or has been a nuclear weapon programme in Iran.

Notice the important difference between the U.S. intelligence community’s and the IAEA’s assessments. According to the 2007 NIE, Iran had a nuclear weapons program until 2003. According to the IAEA — the international nuclear watchdog agency actively monitoring Iran’s program and conducting inspections in the country — there is no proof Iran ever had a nuclear weapons program.

And despite the Western media propaganda to the contrary, that’s the bottom line.

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About Jeremy R. Hammond

About Jeremy R. Hammond

I am an independent journalist, political analyst, publisher and editor of Foreign Policy Journal, book author, and writing coach.

My writings empower readers with the knowledge they need to see through state propaganda intended to manufacture their consent for criminal government policies.

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