Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The AP's disinformation on Iran

Associated Press reporter Anne Gearan has a new piece concerning the Iranian election crisis in which she claims that, no matter the outcome, "the United States will still face an unpredictable adversary that gets closer every day to producing nuclear weapons."

Her piece also states that President Obama's "unspoken strategy aimed at defusing Iran's nuclear threat has been coupled with public messages that seek to avoid giving Iran's rulers any ammunition to claim that the United States is meddling."

Gearan also includes this grammatically challenged line: "Iran's nuclear machinery is still chugging toward the ability to produce nuclear weapons if the regime chooses to do so."

Nowhere does the article mention that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) recently verified -- again -- that Iran has not diverted any of its declared nuclear material to a covert weapons program. The IAEA also notes in its most recent report (pdf) that Iran is only enriching uranium to levels suitable for nuclear energy; to produce nuclear weapons, Iran would have to expel the IAEA inspectors currently monitoring its nuclear facilities, effectively removing itself from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and thus alerting the whole word to its intentions. Even still, it would take months if not years for Iran to amass enough highly enriched uranium to build a bomb.

Nonetheless, the AP claims Iran is "still chugging toward the ability to produce nuclear weapons" -- which kind of makes the country sound like a Sigma Phi Epsilon pledge -- though the piece does add the caveat: "if the regime chooses to do so," which, you know, kind of contradicts the claim the Iranians are actively "chugging toward" producing a weapon.

Unfortunately, the reporter never gets around to mentioning that the U.S. intellilgence community asserts Iran abandoned any weapons program it may have had more than five years ago and that there's no evidence it has made the decision to ultimately pursue nukes. A recent Senate Foreign Relations Committee report also states that there is "no sign that Iran’s leaders have ordered up a bomb", as I noted in a piece over the weekend for

All these facts appear to be highly relevant to a news analysis concerning Obama's strategy for dealing with Iran's nuclear program. To be fair, the piece was just under 800 words, so there very well might not have been enough room for any evidence challenging the Washington foreign policy consensus about "Iran's nuclear threat". Since the AP claims to be "the world's most essential resource for news," I trust this an oversight that will be addressed in Gearan's next article.

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