The IAEA, Iran And ‘Fantasy Land’
Earlier this month, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released its much-trailed report ‘presenting new evidence’, said the BBC, ‘suggesting that Iran is secretly working to obtain a nuclear weapon.’
Relying on ‘evidence provided by more than 10 member states as well as its own information’, the IAEA said Iran had carried out activities ‘relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device’.
Having looked deeply into the claims, veteran journalist Seymour Hersh commented this week in an interview with Democracy Now!:
‘But you mentioned Iraq. It’s just this — almost the same sort of — I don’t know if you want to call it a “psychosis,” but it’s some sort of a fantasy land being built up here, as it was with Iraq, the same sort of — no lessons learned, obviously.’
Indeed, informed scepticism in the corporate media has been muted or non-existent – the image of Iran as a ‘nuclear threat’ has yet again been imposed on the public mind. Any reasonable news reader and viewer would find it extremely difficult to question the emphatic declarations offered right across the media ‘spectrum’.
Thus, a Guardian editorial asserted: ‘It really is time to drop the pretence that Iran can be deflected from its nuclear path.’
Two days earlier, the Guardian’s diplomatic editor, Julian Borger, anticipated the report’s publication on his ‘Global Security Blog’ with a piece titled ‘Iran “on threshold of nuclear weapon”’. The accompanying photograph helpfully depicted a giant mushroom cloud during a 1954 nuclear test over Bikini Atoll. His article was linked prominently from the home page of the Guardian website.
In a later article, Borger gave prominence to a quote from an unnamed ‘source close to the IAEA’:
‘What is striking is the totality and breadth of the information [in the IAEA report]. Virtually every component of warhead research has been pursued by Iran.’
Presumably all-too-aware of increased public scepticism in the wake of Iraq, the anonymous source continued in the Guardian:
‘The agency has very, very, high confidence in its analysis. It did not want to make a mistake, and it was aware it had a very high threshold of credibility to meet. So it would not be published unless they had that high level of confidence.’
In similar vein, a New York Times report opened with:
‘United Nations weapons inspectors have amassed a trove of new evidence that they say makes a “credible” case that “Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear device,” and that the project may still be under way.’
The Daily Telegraph declared its version of the truth unequivocally in a leader titled ‘Iran’s nuclear menace’. It noted that the IAEA report ‘has for the first time acknowledged that Tehran is conducting secret experiments whose sole purpose is the development of weapons.’
Presumably drawing on clairvoyant powers, the editors added:
‘Indeed, the IAEA has known for years that Tehran was building an atomic weapon, but has been reluctant to say so.’
The title of an editorial (November 10, 2011) in The Times was similarly categorical and damning: ‘Deadly Deceit; Iran’s bellicose duplicity is definitively exposed by an IAEA report’:
‘Tehran’s decade-long nuclear programme is obviously not intended purely for generating electricity. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has confirmed this week that it has credible evidence that Iran has worked on the development of nuclear weapons.’
The editorial stamped this with the required emphasis:
‘This will sound, and is, a statement of such banality that it ought not to need saying.’
And then continued without a shred of uncertainty:
‘The IAEA report is extensive and understated. Founded on intelligence sources from ten countries, it explains in detail how Iran has established a programme to develop the technologies for a nuclear weapon. Its findings are entirely consistent with all that has been known and exposed before. Indeed, the IAEA is late in stating them.’
For anyone relying solely on corporate news media coverage, the case against Iran was closed. All that remained was to decide the necessary course of international action: ramped-up ’diplomacy’, international sanctions and perhaps – the threat was left ‘lying on the table’ – war.
What is so breathtaking is that the apparent consensus on Iran, like the case against Iraq, is a fraud.