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Opinion

Reality check: Iran is not a nuclear threat

Forget the neoconservative hype. The facts show Iran is not and has not been a nuclear threat to either the United States or Israel.

By Scott Horton / September 17, 2010



Los Angeles

Politicians, lobbyists, and propagandists have spent nearly two decades pushing the lie that Iran poses a nuclear weapons threat to the United States and Israel. After a brief respite in the intensity of the wolf cries over the past two years, the neoconservative movement has decided to relaunch the “Must Bomb Iran” brand.

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The fact that Iran is not and has not been a nuclear threat to either nation is rendered irrelevant by a narrative of universal “concern” about its nuclear program.

US media distortions

In mid-August, for example, after The New York Times quite uncharacteristically ran a piece diminishing the supposed danger of Iranian nukes, the story was misrepresented in newspapers and on TV stations across the country in the most frightening terms. As MSNBC’s news reader put it that afternoon: “Intelligence sources say Iran is only one year away from a nuclear bomb!”

On August 13, on Fox News, former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton implicitly urged Israel to attack Iran’s new light-water reactor at Bushehr before it began “functioning,” the implication being that the reactor represented some sort of dire threat. But the facts are not on Mr. Bolton’s side. The Bushehr reactor is not useful for producing weapons-grade plutonium, and the Russians have a deal to keep all the waste themselves.

On September 6, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released a new paper on the implementation of Iran’s Safeguards Agreement which reported that the agency has “continued to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran to any military or other special purpose.”

Yet despite the IAEA report and clear assertions to the contrary, news articles that followed were dishonest to the extreme, interpreting this clean bill of health as just another wisp of smoke indicating nuclear fire in a horrifying near-future.

A Washington Post article published the very same day led the way with the aggressive and misleading headlineUN Report: Iran stockpiling nuclear materials,” “shorthanding” the facts right out of the narrative. The facts are that Iran’s terrifying nuclear “stockpile” is a small amount of uranium enriched to industrial grade levels for use in its domestic energy and medical isotope programs, all of it “safeguarded” by the IAEA.

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