On Tuesday, big alarm bells went off in the national
media echo chamber, and major U.S. news outlets showed that they knew the drill.
Iran's nuclear activities were pernicious, most of all, because people in high
places in Washington said so.
It didn't seem to matter much that just that morning the Washington Post
"A major U.S. intelligence review has projected that Iran is about a decade
away from manufacturing the key ingredient for a nuclear weapon, roughly doubling
the previous estimate of five years, according to government sources with firsthand
knowledge of the new analysis. The carefully hedged assessments, which represent
consensus among U.S. intelligence agencies, contrast with forceful public statements
by the White House."
By evening hours after the Iranian government said it would no longer
suspend activities related to enriching uranium American news outlets
were making grave pronouncements, amplifying the statements from French, British,
and German officials closing ranks with the Bush administration. On television
in the United States, a narrow range of talking heads detoured around the USA's
profuse nuclear hypocrisies.
Yes, officials in Washington and their allies conceded, an Iranian restart
of uranium enrichment activities would not violate the nuclear Nonproliferation
Treaty. But, as a Washington Post article put it Wednesday, the Iranian
nuclear program was "built in secret over 18 years" and "the
clandestine nature of the effort created deep suspicions in Washington and elsewhere
about Iran's intentions."
In sharp contrast, no "suspicions" are needed about the nuclear
activities of two of Iran's bitterest enemies, Israel and Pakistan. Both have
produced atomic weapons. Unlike Iran, those two U.S. allies have refused to
sign the Nonproliferation Treaty and do not submit to inspections by the International
Atomic Energy Agency.
For good measure, last month the U.S. government announced plans to
engage in cooperation on atomic energy projects with the Indian
government, which has nuclear bombs and has not signed the NPT.
So, the nuclear moralists in Washington have no problem with Israeli, Pakistani,
and Indian nuclear weapons, developed and stockpiled with contemptuous disregard
for the Nonproliferation Treaty. But the White House and talking heads of U.S.
television are insisting that Iran has no right to do what the treaty allows
it and other signers to do develop nuclear power, ostensibly to generate
The latest U.S. media uproar about Iran's nuclear program is part of a dream
starting to come true for neocons in Washington who fantasize about "regime
change" in Tehran. More realistically, for the nearer term, the Bush administration
is setting the agenda for a U.S. air attack on Iran.
"This notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran
is simply ridiculous," President Bush told a news conference in late
February. He added in the same breath: "and having said that, all options
are on the table." Assembled journalists laughed.