The Truth About the Iranian Threat

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There is another voice calling out the US establishment media on their less than truthful portrayal of a threat from Iran. While at it, Kaveh L Afrasiabi, writing for Asia Times Online cites UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon for having repeatedly condemned Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad’s rhetoric against Israel, while remaining “ominously, and inexcusably, silent” about on Israeli threats of military attacks on Iran.

Unfortunately, compounding the UN’s shortcoming above-cited is a related failure of mainstream media in the US and Europe to criticize Ban’s flawed approach to the Iran crisis, or to address the systematic disinformation and planned paranoia about Iran’s nuclear program put forth by Israel and its allies.

Of particularly important significance in this affair is the fact that the head of the IAEA, (International Atomic Energy Agency) Mohammed ElBaradei, has stated that if a military attack is launched against Iran that he would resign immediately and that such an attack would inflict serious civilian casualties and “trigger the volatile region into a fireball.”

Unless otherwise noted all quotes are from the referenced article in Asia Times Online.

Kaveh L Afrasiabi refers to the US media in particular as having allowed themselves to become an unwitting accomplice:

…the race to dupe public opinion about a “clear and present danger” posed by Iran’s nuclear program, to justify Israel’s threatened attack (with the US’s tacit approval) is in full gear and the US media are by and large about to receive another “F” card, just as they did with the US’s 2003 invasion of Iraq, when the “pluralistic” media became a shell of itself by blindly echoing the White House’s spin about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.

I would seriously question “unwittingly”. If it were so, would they not have learned a lesson from hyping the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq. They cannot possibly be this ignorant of the truth and yet The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Boston Globe, the Dallas News and others, Afrasiabi writes:

have a common thread running through their editorials and opinion pages nowadays (which) is a fundamental distortion of facts about Iran’s nuclear program that has gone unnoticed despite the patently obvious and flagrant nature of this distortion.

In the Asia Times article, examples are given with details – Michael Gordon in the New York Times, Jane Harman in an article in the Wall Street Journal, Graham Allison, a leading US nuclear expert at Harvard University and:

a recent editorial in the Dallas News states categorically that the IAEA “has recently accused Iran of developing its program of enriching uranium”. The editors appear unaware that the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), to which Iran is a signatory, does not prohibit Iran’s uranium-enrichment program.

By the use of distortions such as the use of nuances and uncritical distinctions between low-enriched uranium and “weapons-grade” uranium, it appears that a growing segment of the US media has now jumped on the bandwagon in an attempt to help justify an unjustifiable attack on Iran.

The status of Iran’s nuclear program, is reported periodically by the IAEA, is available at the IAEA website. Here is the latest report. It is dated 26 May 2008. (PDF) Enrichment levels are reported to be 4%. At least a 90% enrichment level is required to produce a nuclear weapon.

Below is the section of the report that deals with enrichment:


A. Current Enrichment Related Activities

      2. Since the previous report, Iran has continued to operate the original 3000-machine IR-1 unit1 at the Fuel Enrichment Plant (FEP). Installation work has continued on four other units as well.2 On 7 May 2008, two 164-machine (IR-1) cascades of one of the four units3 were being fed with UF6, and another cascade of that same unit was in vacuum without UF6. The installation of the other 15 cascades at that unit is continuing. All nuclear material at FEP, as well as all installed cascades, remain under Agency containment and surveillance. Between the physical inventory taking (PIT) on 12 December 2007 and 6 May 2008, 2300 kg of UF6 was fed into the operating cascades. This brings the total amount of UF6 fed into the cascades since the beginning of operations in February 2007 to 3970 kg.

      3. On 10 April 2008, Iran informed the Agency about the planned installation of a new generation sub-critical centrifuge (IR-3) at the Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant (PFEP). On 19 April 2008, the Agency confirmed that two IR-3 centrifuges had been installed at PFEP. In February 2008, Agency inspectors noted that Iran had also brought 20 IR-1 centrifuges into PFEP, which were run in a 20-machine cascade for a short time, after which they were removed.

      4. Between 28 January and 16 May 2008, Iran fed a total of approximately 19 kg of UF6 into the 20-machine IR-1 cascade, the single IR-2 centrifuges, the 10-machine IR-2 cascade and the single IR-3 centrifuges at PFEP. All nuclear material at PFEP, as well as the cascade area, remains under Agency containment and surveillance.

      5. The results of the environmental samples taken at FEP and PFEP indicate that the plants have been operated as declared. The samples showed low enriched uranium (with up to 4.0% U-235), natural uranium and depleted uranium (down to 0.4% U-235) particles. Iran declared enrichment levels in FEP of up to 4.7% U-235. Since March 2007, fourteen unannounced inspections have been connducted.

We should also recall the NIE report (PDF – 9 pages) from early last December on Iran’s nuclear intentions and capabilities which concluded:  

We judge with moderate confidence that the earliest possible date Iran would be technically capable of producing enough highly enriched uranium (HEU) for a weapon is late 2009, but that this is very unlikely.

Henry Kissinger and others have weighed in casting doubts on the accuracy of the NIE. They have criticized the NIE report for failing to refer to Iran’s enrichment program as an evidence of weaponization.

…Kissinger and others critical of the NIE report overlook that as long as there is no evidence of Iranian enrichment above the “low-grade” that is qualitatively and technically different from “high-enriched” or “weapons-grade” enrichment, no one can accuse Iran of engaging in proliferation by simply pursuing a legal nuclear activity.

And so Henry Kissinger does not know the difference between low-level enrichment for nuclear power and high-level enrichment for nuclear weapons??? … please.

The IAEA report of 26 May, referred to above, notes that since March 2007, fourteen unannounced inspections have been conducted in addition to regular scheduled inspections. Diversions of uranium to weapons grade processing would require significant modifications to equipment and would be readily detected in the IAEA inspections.

Yet as Afrasiabi writes:

…all of this is ignored, with the tacit suggestion that Iran’s program is “unsupervised” when, in fact, it is one of the most exhaustively inspected and supervised nuclear programs in the world, in light of some 3,500 hours of inspection of its facilities since 2003.

The propaganda continues, parroted and echoed throughout the US establishment media, by prominent neo-conservatives and by many of our lawmakers in the halls of congress. The very least we can do is to recognize it for what it is, lies and distortions little different from those that became the pretexts for our invasion and occupation of Iraq.

As for an attack itself, it boggles the mind to think that such an immoral action is even being considering. Are there no limits to greed and the lust for power?  


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    • brobin on June 26, 2008 at 17:38

    2nd question:  Animal, vegetable or mineral?  A: Mineral

    A: OIL!

    YEP! (damn, I’m good at this game.  18 questions left!)

    If Iran wasn’t making nooklear weapons, they would be making chemical weapons.  If they weren’t making chemical weapons, they would be making IED’s for use in Iraq.  If they weren’t making IED’s for use in Iraq, they might be knitting sheeps wool into ICBM’s for delivery of Itch Powder to be used against the West…..

    It’s all an excuse to remove the current regime and replace it with one that will allow Exxon-Mobil and British Petroleum access to their oil fields….

    of course…

  1. Agree that the press is, once again, pulling a “Judy Miller.”

    And we’re also hearing in the press news that Israel is pushing the US to attack Iran.  I find that very strange and disturbing.

    In the past the US has always had the power to restrain Israel from war of aggression.  Until Bush, of course, who has encouraged aggression all over the world with his own bad example.

    I don’t think the neocons in the US have any problem agreeing with the neocons in the Israel.  I think there’s a big con game happening on many fronts here.

    I’m also disturbed by the “sense of Congress” (H. Con. Res 362, referred to in this diary by John F. Scanlon over at Daily Kos).  Part of that resolution calls for a blockade of Iran.  And plenty of Dems have signed on to it, even though at present it is not up for a vote.

    Something very fishy is going on here.  

    • Edger on June 26, 2008 at 18:42

    something I noted the other day.


    I would seriously question “unwittingly”. If it were so, would they not have learned a lesson from hyping the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq. They cannot possibly be this ignorant of the truth and yet The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Boston Globe, the Dallas News and others, Afrasiabi writes:

    have a common thread running through their editorials and opinion pages nowadays (which) is a fundamental distortion of facts about Iran’s nuclear program that has gone unnoticed despite the patently obvious and flagrant nature of this distortion.

    The mainstream media is the heart, the soul, the engine, and the cause of the social and political problems and wars of the past half century or more, and particularly of the past eight years, and the driver of the death and misery of hundreds of millions of people as well as the apparently looming collapse of America.

    The New York Times is virtually at the top of the pyramid of bodies.

    The neocons and George Bush and Dick Cheney would be castrated eunuchs without the Times.

    Without the NYT George Bush probably would never have seen the inside of the Oval Office.

    Without the NYT Iraq would never have been invaded.

    Without the NYT hundreds of thousands if not millions of people would still be alive.

    And I now would add that without the NYT George Bush’s dreams of attacking Iran would remain the fantasy of him and the neocons and nothing more, and we probably wouldn’t even be here discussing their idiocy.

    • geomoo on June 26, 2008 at 19:11

    Restoring constitutional government and restoring independent media.  I’ve been pondering which is more important.

  2. …owned in large part by neocon propagandists, won’t let facts get in the way of their plans.  Facts for them are mere annoyances, to be trampled, twisted, altered, ignored, and hidden away in the secret cellars of “national security” and “executive privilege” to which only they hold the key…

    • geomoo on June 26, 2008 at 20:09

    on the basis of information way too scary and important for the average consumer citizen to be given.

    When I was in the navy in the early 70’s I saw a report which predicted decreasing petroleum supplies and thus the importance of keeping sea lanes open.  The conclusion being that the navy is very important.  I expect they are reading such reports, factual on their surface but just as self-serving.  I would expect that they think they are looking out for our national interests and feel they somehow are being good patriots when they keep their true motives secret, believing their privileged information justifies their behavior.  That is the best face I can put on the treasonous behavior of so many or our elected officials.

    • banger on June 26, 2008 at 23:08

    The “threat” exists because Iran refuses to join the Empire as a vassal. If they genuflect and allow Western capitalists in the threat will disappear. We must not forget that the origin of the Iranian nuclear program was with the Shah the model U.S. vassal.

    The media also conveniently “forgets” that Israel is armed to the teeth with sufficient nuclear deterrent to stop any country (including us) in its tracks. Where is the danger? Pakistan is far more unstable if they are looking for the “Islamic Bomb” as a threat and contains a higher population of radicals than Iran.

    Everything in the major media is propaganda whether it is true, somewhat true or lies. You cannot believe anyone and I mean anyone that writes for the major media about anything.

  3. US hegemony in the Gulf Region, but then by what right does the US have to claim hegemony since they are not even in the region and obviously Iran is. I suppose the Carter Doctrine comes into play.

    The other factor is that since the Shah departed in 1979, which we supported – behind the scenes, we have not had access to Iranian oil. The past 100 years has seen a continuous battle, between Great Britain and the US on one side and Iran on the other, over control and access to Iranian oil. What we are seeing is a continuation of that fight.

    After all, an important part of our “national interests” is unfettered access to the resources of foreign countries. In the end that involves unleashing the jackals (as it did with Iraq) if the prize is significant and we cannot get it by other means.

    Who is it that defines “our national interests”? Any thoughts.  

    • Mu on June 27, 2008 at 05:12
  4. This one in the Washington Post – 28 June 2008

    by the neocon Richard Perle:

    “A successful multilateral coalition” is how Condoleezza Rice described those countries, “united in confronting Iran,” on which the administration’s Iran policy critically depends.

    “A complete failure” is Barack Obama’s description of the Bush administration’s Iran policy.

    They are both right. The secretary of state, whose born-again multilateralism has redeemed her standing at the State Department and among our allies, can rightly claim to have forged a coalition on Iran. But Obama (whose enthusiasm for multilateralism is at least as fervent) can rightly claim that Rice’s coalition has failed to slow, much less halt, Iran’s unrelenting nuclear weapons program or diminish its support for terrorist groups.

    As Jim Lobe writes:

    …it’s good to know that the Washington Post still considers Perle credible enough to give him space on its op-ed page to warn against the perils of multilateralism in dealing with Iran, as it did today.

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