NYT Iran Scare Piece Just Lies, Innuendo

David Sanger carries on Walter Duranty, Judith Miller and Michael Gordon’s lying legacy at the New York Times. In his new piece, co-written with William J. Broad, Sanger spends eleven-hundred words speculating and propagandizing about what it might meant that an Iranian scientist got a promotion.

Eat your heart out, George Jahn.

Sanger’s* entire argument – it ain’t reporting – is that the new enrichment facility at Qom exists. He repeats the tired, nonsensical lie, which first appeared in Sanger’s "journalism" at the time, that the Iranian government disclosed the existence of the new facility they were building there back in September 2009, as he now puts it, "only after learning that the United States and European powers were about to announce that they had discovered the complex, deep inside the Iranian base."

What a bunch of nonsense. How in the world could the Iranian government know that President Obama, French President Nicholas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown were "about to announce that they had discovered the complex"? Is it (Broad and) Sanger’s case that Iranian Intelligence infiltrated the American president’s speech writers’ offices? That they have a high-level mole inside the CIA? The MI-6?

Of course not. These are simply hollow lies fed to Sanger by his anonymous government sources, and uncritically passed by him to the rest of the mindless media.

The Iranians simply abided by their Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA and notified them that they would be introducing nuclear material into equipment to be installed at a new facility they were building long before the required 6 months out.

Under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran is required to maintain a "Safeguards Agreement," which allows IAEA inspectors access to Iran’s nuclear material to verify its non-diversion to military purposes, and requires notification in due time before the introduction of nuclear materials new locations so that the verification of non-diversion will not be interrupted. (The NPT also guarantees the "unalienable rights" of all signatories to the use of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.)

But, since hardly anyone else in the world was aware of the Qom disclosure to the IAEA, the Western politicians decided they would seize the opportunity – four days after the disclosure – to pretend they had caught Iran "red handed," making a "secret" uranium enrichment site.

Sanger bought it. Or at least sold it. "They only admitted it first because somehow they knew we were about to call them on it," unbelievably, became the linchpin of the entire government/media argument of Iran’s corrupt deception at Qom.

One may wonder why they even need arguments at this point.

But this one did serve the administration’s purpose of finding a way to refuse to accept Iran’s damn-near complete acceptance [.pdf] of the 20% enriched u-235 fuel swap deal that Obama had offered them in the first place, and complain that the end-of-2009 deadline for falling in line and avoiding more sanctions had been violated by the Iranians.

Once the IAEA was done looking around the facility that November, then-director Mohamed ElBaradei said it was "nothing to be worried about." It was just a hole in the ground then, and has taken all this time to be ready for use. Apparently Sanger has trouble remembering things from a year and a half ago, if they’re true.

The rest of Sanger and Broad’s harangue is simply innuendo stemming from the obvious-to them premises that 1: the Qom facility must have been constructed for nuclear weapons development and 2: that if an Iranian nuclear scientist (that the U.S. and/or Israel has tried to murder**) who used to work with another man Sanger claims is "suspected" of unspecified nuclear weapons work inside the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps has been made the new head of their Atomic Energy Agency, and he continues on the exact same path of enriching small amounts of uranium up to 20% for alleged medical uses that his predecessors were on, then that could only mean one thing: an atom bomb program.

Yet the American intelligence community is unanimous [.pdf] in this year’s National Intelligence Estimate that the Iranians have no nuclear weapons program, secret or declared, as they’ve said since 2007 [.pdf], long after, as Glenn Greenwald has pointed out, they claim to have discovered the existence of the Qom site.

As even Sanger admits in the article, the administration doesn’t see any cause for alarm here, other than the typical "they’re not supposed to be enriching at all" boilerplate – an answer given only when pressed by the Times. And we know Obama will use any excuse to start a war.

And why should weapons development be the most likely reason for 20% enrichment, Qom’s construction or this scientist’s promotion?

Yes, 20% enriched uranium is closer to the 90-plus percent required to make atom bombs than the rest of Iran’s stockpile of 3.6% enrichment for their electricity program, but it’s also needed for targets in their medical isotope reactor that the U.S.A. helped build for them back in the 1970s when their dictator was our loyal puppet.

During the so-called negotiations of 2009, Iran’s counter-offer to Obama that they swap their 3.6% LEU for finished 20% fuel rods, instead of their relying on the good faith of the French to honor the agreement was perfectly reasonable, as was the Turkish-Brazilian efforts to arrange the swaps on their territory. It was the U.S. government that was the intransigent party in all this, refusing to take Iran’s initial counter-offer as an opening to further talks, and even – shades of Dick Cheneyloudly criticizing the Brazilian and Turkish governments’ good faith efforts to bring a resolution to the dispute.

It is the president and secretary of state who deserve the blame from those worried about Iranian production of 20% enriched U-235, but they should also relax a bit because, after all, the Iranians have remained prepared to negotiate away production at those levels as recently as a few months ago – not the best way for them to stockpile eventual weapons material, right?

Why should the construction of a new uranium enrichment facility at Qom be an indication of a future weapons program? After all, the U.S. and Israel have threatened to bomb Iran for years under the pretext that their open, declared nuclear electricity facilities amount to a weapons program already. Why shouldn’t they diversify their supply and harden their defenses?

And why should the promotion of this one scientist be viewed as as some game-changing milestone on the road to the apocalypse in the context of the rest of these facts? Oh, right, these facts are here, not in the Times piece. So there you go.

*I pick on Sanger because Broad’s work is okay when he writes with Mark Mazzetti for example.

**Such attacks continue.

Update: That last link about an assassination today, turns out not to be right.

Author: Scott Horton

Scott Horton is editorial director of Antiwar.com, director of the Libertarian Institute, host of Antiwar Radio on Pacifica, 90.7 FM KPFK in Los Angeles, California and podcasts the Scott Horton Show from ScottHorton.org. He’s the author of the 2017 book, Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan and editor of The Great Ron Paul: The Scott Horton Show Interviews 2004–2019. He’s conducted more than 5,000 interviews since 2003. Scott lives in Austin, Texas with his wife, investigative reporter Larisa Alexandrovna Horton. He is a fan of, but no relation to the lawyer from Harper’s. Scott’s Twitter, YouTube, Patreon.