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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.

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More sensational claims

If the smokescreen wasn’t thick enough, late last week a group of Marxist holy warrior exiles called the Mujahadeen-e-Khalq, working with the very same neoconservatives who sponsored Ahmad Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress – which manufactured so much of the propaganda that convinced the American people to support the invasion of that country – accused the Iranian government of building a secret nuclear enrichment facility buried deep in tunnels near Qazvin.

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Headlines once again blared in total negligence and without verification that here indeed was, an official told Fox News, proof that Iran has a “hidden, secret nuclear weapons program.’” TV news anchors on every channel furiously mopped sweat from their brows, hearts-a-tremor. When will the forces of good rise to stop this evil?!

Yet even US officials quickly admitted that they’ve known about these tunnels for years. “[T]here’s no reason at this point to think it’s nuclear,” one US official said – a quote that appeared in Fox’s article, but only after five paragraphs of breathless allegations. All day long, top-of-the-hour news updates on TV and radio let the false impression stand.

IAEA inspectors have had open access to the gas conversion facility at Isfahan, the enrichment facility at Natanz, and the new lightwater reactor at Bushehr, as well as the secondary enrichment facility under construction at Qom.

An ignored clean bill of health

The September 6 IAEA report confirming for the zillionth time the non-diversion of nuclear material should be the last word on the subject until the next time they say the same thing: Iran, a long-time signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), is not in violation of its Safeguards Agreement.

So what’s all the hubbub about Iran’s “nuclear defiance” and “danger”?

The IAEA’s latest report does note that Iran has “not provided the necessary cooperation to permit the Agency to confirm that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.” Indeed, the agency’s frequent mentions of Iran’s “lack of full cooperation” is a big reason why US media reports portray Iran in ominous terms.

But here, too, US media frequently miss the point. Never mind that 118 nations around the world have signed a statement criticizing the IAEA’s “peaceful activities” conclusion as a departure from standard verification language. More broadly, Iran’s “lack of full cooperation” by itself is an outcome of Western bullying and propaganda.

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