Where’s old Doc Prather when we need him? George Jahn, the David Sanger of the Associated Press, has a scary new piece out. And though the story seems to have gotten plenty of attention with it’s big headline “Iran Prez Said Pushing for Nukes,” on further inspection the “Said” amounts to, well, pretty much nothing:
“Iran’s president wants to shed the nation’s secrecy and forge ahead openly with developing nuclear weapons but is opposed by the clerical leadership, which is worried about international reaction to such a move, says an intelligence assessment shared with The Associated Press.
“That view, from a nation with traditionally reliable intelligence from the region, cannot be confirmed and contrasts with assessments by other countries that view Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as relatively moderate on the nuclear issue compared to the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.”
So the vast majority of Western intelligence agencies agree that Ahmadinejad is “relatively moderate” on the issue, and one dissents. On what basis exists this discrepancy? Jahn never says.
If Ahmadinejad’s supposed ambitions are opposed by the religious leadership, who have the real say in the matter, then what’s so headliney about that anyway?
Are we to understand that Jahn’s source(s) swore him to secrecy regarding not just their names, but the name of the country which they presumably work for and produced this “intelligence”? Could it be that they anticipate readers may not agree with Jahn’s assessment their assertions about Iranian nuclear capabilities have been “traditionally reliable”?
The piece continues:
“Ahmadinejad is pushing ‘to shake free of the restraints Iran has imposed upon itself, and openly push forward to create a nuclear bomb,’ says the assessment. But Khamenei, whose word is final on nuclear and other issues, ‘wants to progress using secret channels, due to concern about a severe response from the West,’ says the report.”
Jahn provides no evidence that Ahmadinejad is pushing for anything, and nothing in the article even acknowledges the fact that the unanimous opinion of all 17 American intelligence agencies [.pdf] is that the Iranians are not pursuing nuclear weapons openly or in secret. Renowned investigative reporter Seymour Hersh tells this writer that the rest of the West agrees. But in AP Land, inconvenient facts are omitted rather than confronted head on.
The new head of the IAEA is quoted complaining that Iran has made it “difficult for us to draw a conclusion [Iran’s nuclear program] is exclusively for peaceful purposes.” But that, as our dear retired Dr. Prather would put it, is “none of the IAEA’s beeswax.” Their mandate under the Non-Proliferation Treaty and Safeguards Agreement with Iran is the monitoring of Iran’s nuclear material, accounting for its quantity and quality on a regular basis and verifying its non-diversion to military purposes. Their further mandates from the UN Security Council to completely prove a negative, ask endless questions based on forgeries and inspect non-nuclear facilities are rightly considered illegitimate by the Iranians.
The rest of the article elaborates on the theme that that the “Supreme Leader,” Ayatollah Khamenei, is the one with the power to decide and that he is the more “cautious” and “circumspect” about the prospect of starting a nuclear weapons program and perhaps stoking a regional arms race than his already-willing-to-deal presidential frontman.
George Jahn’s new Iran piece in the Associated Press, despite its emotional headline and anonymous scare quotes, actually makes a strong case that neither Iran’s president, nor its head-Ayatollah are interested in obtaining nuclear weapons.