"To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies — all this is indispensably necessary."
- George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four
Facts rarely get in the way of American and Israeli fear-mongering and jingoism, especially when it comes to anti-Iran propaganda. For nearly thirty years now, U.S. and Israeli politicians and analysts, along with some of their European allies, have warned that Iranian nuclear weapons capability is just around the corner and that such a possibility would not only be catastrophic for Israel with its 400 nuclear warheads and state-of-the-art killing power supplied by U.S. taxpayers, but that it would also endanger regional dictatorships, Europe, and even the United States.
If these warnings are to be believed, Iran is only a few years away from unveiling a nuclear bomb...and has been for the past three decades. Fittingly, let's begin in 1984.
An April 24, 1984 article entitled "'Ayatollah' Bomb in Production for Iran" in United Press International referenced a Jane's Intelligence Defense Weekly report warning that Iran was moving "very quickly" towards a nuclear weapon and could have one as early as 1986.
In response, a U.S. Department of State spokesman was reportedly quick to point out the official government belief that "it would take at least two to three years to complete construction of the reactors at Bushehr," adding that the light water power reactors at the Bushehr plant "are not particularly well-suited for a weapons program." He also noted that "we have no evidence of Iranian construction of other facilities that would be necessary to separate plutonium from spent reactor fuel."
Two months later, on June 27, 1984, in an article entitled "Senator says Iran, Iraq seek N-Bomb," Minority Whip of the U.S. Senate Alan Cranston was quoted as claiming Iran was a mere seven years away from being able to build its own nuclear weapon.
In April 1987, the Washington Post published an article with the title "Atomic Ayatollahs: Just What the Mideast Needs – an Iranian Bomb," in which reporter David Segal wrote of the imminent threat of such a weapon.
The next year, in 1988, Iraq issued warnings that Tehran was at the nuclear threshold.
Citing a recent Jane's Defense Weekly assessment, the trade journal Nuclear Developments reports on May 15, 1990, that Chile, Iran, South Korea, and Libya are already capable of producing nuclear weapons.
A Los Angeles Times report from January 27, 1991 stated that officials in the George H.W. Bush administration and non-proliferation analysts "have grown increasingly worried" that Iran was engaged in "secret efforts to buy nuclear technology and build nuclear weapons." The report noted, however, "that any nuclear threat from Iran would be years, perhaps a decade, away," and quoted a "State Department official" as saying, "They're doing basic research and development. From a technical standpoint, they're very far away."
By late 1991, Congressional reports and CIA assessments maintained a "high degree of certainty that the government of Iran has acquired all or virtually all of the components required for the construction of two to three nuclear weapons."
On October 13, 1991, Cairo-based Al Ahram reports that Iran has purchased five tactical nuclear missiles from the former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan. Later reports claim Iran only bought three such warheads.
On October 31, 1991, Elaine Sciolino reported for The New York Times that "an American intelligence assessment has concluded that at least some of Iran's revolutionary leaders are intent on developing nuclear weapons." The report quotes Anthony Cordesman, a military expert and author of "Weapons of Mass Destruction in the Middle East," as saying, "There is no doubt that Iran is pursuing nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and seeking to obtain long-range missiles from North Korea and to develop them in Iran."
On November 21, 1991, The Los Angeles Times reported on testimony delivered by Assistant Secretary of State Edward P. Djerejian to the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee, during which the Bush administration official was said to be "convinced that Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons," despite the fact that Iran had "opened its facilities to international inspection."
A January 18, 1992 report about nuclear proliferation in The Economist suggested that "Iran may have snapped up a couple of tactical nuclear warheads at bargain prices in the Central Asian arms bazaar."
A report by the U.S. House Republican Research Committee, released in early 1992, stated with "98 per cent certainty that Iran already had all [or virtually all] of the components required for two to three operational nuclear weapons made with parts purchased in the ex-Soviet Muslim republics," and suggested Iran would acquire these weapons by April 1992.
In March 1992, The Arms Control Reporter reported that Iran already had four nuclear weapons, which it had obtained from Russia. That same year, the CIA predicted that Iran was "making progress on a nuclear arms program and could develop a nuclear weapon by 2000," then later changed their estimate to 2003.
On March 26, 1992, The Jerusalem Report, noting that "Israel keeps a wary watch on Teheran's march to the Bomb," predicted that, "[b]y the year 2000, Iran will almost certainly have the Bomb."
In Congressional testimony delivered on March 27, 1992, then-Director of the CIA Robert Gates stated, "We judge that Tehran is seeking to acquire a nuclear weapon capability. Barring significant technical input from abroad, however, the Iranians are not likely to achieve that goal before the year 2000."
According to The Washington Post's R. Jeffrey Smith in an article published March 28, 1992, Gates told the panel that Iran was also engaged in "the development of poison gas warheads to place atop Scud missiles" and that "the country's 'relatively crude' chemical weapons program is expected to produce such warheads within a few years. 'We also suspect that Iran is working toward a biological warfare capability,' he said."
A May 1992 report in The European claims that "Iran has obtained at least two nuclear warheads out of a batch officially listed as 'missing from the newly independent republic of Kazakhstan.'"
On May 28, 1992, Agence France Press reported that Israeli president Chaim Herzog had warned of "attempts by Iran and its allies to spread fundamentalism" in former Soviet republics. Herzog added, "The threat is all the more real as some elements linked to this fundamentalism are trying to seize nuclear weapons. Fundamentalist extremism plus weapons of mass extinction are the recipe that is bound to lead to disaster."
On June 14, 1992, the Daily Mail reported on Israeli claims that "nuclear experts from the former Soviet Union are helping Iran to build atomic bombs," quoting a "top Israel defence official" as saying, "If nothing is done to stop the Iranians they are certain to have atom bombs within a few years."
The Washington Post reported on June 15, 1992, that Israeli Major General Herzl Budinger had said that unless "Iran's intensive effort to develop atomic weapons is not 'disrupted,'" it would "become a nuclear power by the end of the decade."
On June 22, 1992, Ethan Bronner, reporting from Tel Aviv, wrote in The Boston Globe that Israeli "[i]ntelligence assessments here say that Iran will have nuclear weapons by the end of the decade."
On August 5, 1992, international wire services reported on a newly-release study by the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center "warned that unless Western nations halt the flow of such [duel-use nuclear] technology, Iran is likely to produce its first nuclear bomb within five or six years."
Speaking on French television in October 1992, then-Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres warned the international community that Iran would be armed with a nuclear bomb by 1999. Peres declared that Iran posed the greatest threat to peace in the Middle East "because it seeks the nuclear option while holding a highly dangerous stance of extreme religious militantism."
The following month, on November 8, 1992, the New York Times reported that Israel was confident Iran would "become a nuclear power in a few years unless stopped." A "senior army officer" in Israel told the paper that "the Iranians may have a full nuclear capability by the end of the decade." The Times stated, "For Israel, a sense that the region's nuclear clock is ticking."
After the November 1992 release of a new National Intelligence Estimate, which found that Iran "is making progress on a nuclear arms program and could develop a nuclear weapon by 2000," CIA head Robert Gates addressed the imminent threat in an interview with the Associated Press. "Is it a problem today?" he rhetorically asked, "probably not. But three, four, five years from now it could be a serious problem."
Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin said in late 1993 that Iran would threaten Israel with "ground-to-ground missiles equipped with non-conventional warheads within 3 to 7 years." The following month he claimed that Iran "now has the appropriate manpower and resources to acquire nuclear weapons within the next ten years."
On January 23, 1993, Gad Yaacobi, Israeli envoy to the UN, was quoted in the Boston Globe, claiming that Iran was devoting $800 million per year to the development of nuclear weapons.
On February 12, 1993, an Associated Press dispatch entitled "Newspaper Report: Iran Will Have Nuclear Bomb by 1999," summarized a report in Israeli daily Maariv, which quoted "experts who predicted Tehran would have an atomic bomb within six years." One of these "experts" was Likud Party chairman Benjamin Netanyahu, who had recently written in Yedioth Ahronoth claiming Iranian leaders had "repeatedly" vowed to acquire an "Islamic bomb" with which to destroy Israel. By 1999, Netanyahu wrote, Iran would have such a weapon. Israeli Defense Ministry spokesman Oded Ben-Ami told AP, "We know the Iranian nuclear capability poses a big threat and a great danger," while Daniel Leshem, an arms expert who used to work for Israeli military intelligence, claimed, "The Iranians are investing billions in developing an infrastructure for creating material for nuclear weapons" and that "by 1999 they will have a bomb."
On February 24, 1993, CIA director James Woolsey said that although Iran was "still eight to ten years away from being able to produce its own nuclear weapon" the United States was concerned that, with foreign assistance, it could become a nuclear power earlier.
That same year, international press went wild with speculation over Iranian nuclear weapons. In the Spring of 1993, U.S. News and World Report, the New York Times, the conservative French weekly Paris Match, and Foreign Report all claimed Iran had struck a deal with North Korea to develop nuclear weapons capability, while U.S. intelligence analysts alleged an Iranian nuclear alliance with Ukraine. Months later, the AFP reported Switzerland was supplying Iran with nuclear weapons technology, while the Intelligence Newsletter claimed that the French firm CKD was delivering nuclear materials to Iran and U.S. News and World Report accused Soviet scientists working in Kazakhstan of selling weapons-grade uranium to Iran.
In a prepared statement to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on November 10, 1993, State Department Undersecretary for International Security Affairs Lynn Davis declared that "Iran's actions leave little doubt that Tehran is intent upon developing nuclear weapons capability" and that Iran's acquisition of so-called "dual-use technologies" are "inconsistent with any rational civil nuclear energy program."
The next month, reported the Christian Science Monitor, "a draft Central Intelligence Agency report concluded that Iran was making progress on a nuclear arms program and could develop a nuclear weapon by the year 2000."
Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin said in late 1993 that Iran would threaten Israel with "ground-to-ground missiles equipped with non-conventional warheads within 3 to 7 years." The following month he claimed that Iran "now has the appropriate manpower and resources to acquire nuclear weapons within the next ten years."
By the end of 1993, Theresa Hitchens and Brendan McNally of Defense News and National Defense University analyst W. Seth Carus had reaffirmed CIA director Woolsey's prediction "that Iran could have nuclear weapons within eight to ten years."
Around the same time, Knesset member Ephraim Sneh told a symposium at the Yaffe Center for Strategic Studies that because "Iran threatens the interests of all rational states in the Middle East," everything must be done "to prevent Iran from ever reaching nuclear capability."
In the March/April 1994 issue of Foreign Affairs, Anthony Lake, a close adviser of President Clinton for National Security Affairs, identified Iran as a "backlash state" which "pose[s] a threat to U.S. interests and ideals," adding that "Iran and Iraq are particularly troublesome since they not only defy nonproliferation exports but border the vital Persian Gulf." He further declared, "Iran is actively engaged in clandestine efforts to acquire nuclear and other unconventional weapons and long range missile-delivery systems."
On September 23, 1994, CIA director James Woolsey said that Iran was 8 to 10 year away from building a nuclear weapon.
In January 1995, John Holum, director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, testified before Congress that "Iran could have the bomb by 2003," while Defense Secretary William J. Perry unveiled a grimmer analysis, stating that "Iran may be less than five years from building an atomic bomb, although how soon...depends how they go about getting it." Perry suggested that Iran could potentially buy or steal a nuclear bomb from one of the former Soviet states in "a week, a month, five years."
The New York Times reported on January 5, 1995 that "Iran is much closer to producing nuclear weapons than previously thought, and could be less than five years away from having an atomic bomb, several senior American and Israeli officials say," a claim subsequently repeated by Greg Gerardi in The Nonproliferation Review (Vol. 2, 1995). Chris Hedges, writing for the Times, quoted an unnamed "senior official" as warning, "The date by which Iran will have nuclear weapons is no longer 10 years from now...If the Iranians maintain this intensive effort to get everything they need, they could have all their components in two years. Then it will be just a matter of technology and research. If Iran is not interrupted in this program by some foreign power, it will have the device in more or less five years."
Following announcement of a deal struck between Iran and Russia to build a nuclear power plant, U.S. Secretary of Defense William J. Perry told Israeli military officials in Jerusalem, "Iran may lay its hands on a nuclear weapon now," reported Sue Masterman in London's Evening Standard on January 9, 1995. Masterman added, "Nuclear experts have always reckoned that it would take Iran up to 10 years to create a viable nuclear weapons programme,"
The next day, January 10, 1995, Clyde Haberman wrote in The New York Times that Perry admitted that, whereas the United States and Israel were "both very much concerned" about a potential threat posed by the Iranian nuclear program, "the Iranians were still 'many, many years' from developing an atomic bomb." Moreover, "Perry agreed with Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin that 7 to 15 years was 'a reasonable estimate' of how long it might take Iran at its present pace."
On January 11, 1995, Benjamin Netanyahu told the Knesset that "within three to five years, we can assume that Iran will become autonomous in its ability to develop and produce a nuclear bomb." Netanyahu repeated this claim in his 1995 book "Fighting Terrorism: How Democracies Can Defeat the International Terrorist Network," writing, "The best estimates at this time place Iran between three and five years away from possessing the prerequisites required for the independent production of nuclear weapons."
At the same time, a senior Israeli official declared, "If Iran is not interrupted in this program by some foreign power, it will have the device in more or less five years." After a meeting in Jerusalem between Defense Secretary Perry and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, they announced that Iran would have a nuclear bomb in seven to 15 years.
On May 6, 1995, President Bill Clinton signed Executive Order 12959, effectively placing a complete embargo on trade with Iran. The order, lobbied for and written by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), was supposedly implemented "to deal with the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States." In a letter to Congress announcing the order, Clinton claimed that Iran had "intensified efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction."
Addressing the AIPAC Policy Conference the next day, May 7, 1995, Clinton insisted that "Iran is bent on building nuclear weapons" and warned, "The specter of an Iran armed with weapons of mass destruction and the missiles to deliver them haunts not only Israel but the entire Middle East and, ultimately, all the rest of us as well. The United States, and I believe all the Western nations, have an overriding interest in containing the threat posed by Iran."
The following day, May 8, 1995, The Washington Times published an article with the headline, "Tehran's A-bomb program shows startling progress." Its author, Ken Timmerman stated, "Secretary of State Warren Christopher and other top U.S. officials have been warning in recent months of a 'crash program' by Iran to go nuclear, but they have not put a timetable on the Iranian effort," adding, "The new evidence, which has been pieced together from interviews over the past six months with intelligence officials and senior diplomats in Washington, Paris and Bonn, suggests that Iran could be as little as three to five years away from a nuclear-weapons capability, and not eight to 10 years as previously thought."
The same day, the White House press office released a statement claiming that Iran was attempting to "obtain materials and assistance critical to the development of nuclear weapons."
On May 9, 1995, Robin Wright wrote in the Los Angeles Times, "Administration officials said that Iran has been secretly buying equipment that is not necessary for peaceful uses of nuclear technology. The nature of the goods, including large magnets and pumps that can be used in enriching uranium, indicates that Iran is in the early stages of a nuclear weapons program, the officials asserted."
Writing in The Washington Post on May 17, 1995, Jim Hoagland reported on a meeting between President Bill Clinton and Russian leader Boris Yeltsin, during which Clinton presented an intelligence report claiming that "Iran is aggressively pursuing a nuclear-weapons acquisition blueprint drawn up at least four years ago with the aid of Pakistani officials." The so-called Iranian "drive for the bomb" had been determined based on "human intelligence and communications intercepts." Hoagland further noted that "Clinton could not offer Yeltsin satellite photography or other physical evidence, since Iran has not yet begun construction of an identifiable nuclear weapons site."
A few days later, on May 21, 1995, The Independent reported that "Israel is considering attacking Iranian nuclear facilities to prevent Iran acquiring a bomb, according to Israeli press reports. The aim would be to repeat Israel's success in 1981 in bombing Iraq's Osirak reactor."
In a June 1, 1995 paper on American policy toward Iran over its nuclear program, non-proliferation analyst Mark D. Skootsky wrote that U.S. officials had long determined that "Iran could develop nuclear weapons within ten to fifteen years," adding, "Recent estimates, however, indicate that Iran could have a nuclear weapon in about five years." He quoted an anonymous "senior U.S. official" who said in early January 1995:
The date by which Iran will have nuclear weapons is no longer 10 years from now. If the Iranians maintain this intensive effort to get everything they need, they could have all their components in two years. Then it will be just a matter of technology and research. If Iran is not Interrupted in this program by some foreign power, it will have the device in more or less five years.In a July 1, 1995 article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, David Albright of the Washington D.C. based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) wrote that, while "Western intelligence agencies have not discovered clandestine Iranian nuclear weapon facilities" or "in fact, developed irrefutable evidence that Iran has a bomb program... they have assembled a substantial body of evidence suggesting that, although Iran signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), it is secretly pursuing a broad, organized effort to develop nuclear weapons."
An article published in the July/August 1995 edition of Washington Report on Middle East Affairs noted that, "whenever American companies seemed to be doing deals with the Islamic Republic, Israeli 'intelligence sources' leaked to friendly journalists various estimates as to how long it would take the Iranians to build a bomb. The bigger the deal, the shorter the estimate."
The same year, Major-General Yaakov Amidror, head of the Research and Assessment Division of Israeli Military Intelligence, says "we found the first signs that the Iranians were going nuclear" and attempted to convince their American counterparts "that this was a danger soon to be faced by the entire Free World."
A February 1996 article in The American Spectator entitled, "Does Iran Have the Bomb?," Ken Timmerman quoted anonymous "sources with access to American intelligence data on the Iran nuclear program" as saying, "Nobody believes the 8-10 year estimate, which was first used almost ten years ago. But if you say two years, then the alarm bells start going off. Two years means we need to take immediate action." Citing a "recent estimate of Iran's nuclear timetable" by an analyst at the AIPAC-affiliated Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), Timmerman quotes Michael Eisenstadt: "The recent discovery in Europe of plutonium and enriched uranium smuggled out of the former Soviet Union raises the possibility that the diversion of fissile material may in fact have already occurred." Furthermore, Eisenstadt said that, depending on the unknown extent of Iranian expertise, it could take Iran "several months or several years to manufacture a weapon."
On February 15, 1996, then-Israeli Foreign Minister Ehud Barak told members of the UN Security Council that Iran would be producing nuclear weapons by 2004.
On April 29, 1996, Israel's then-Prime Minister Shimon Peres claimed in an interview with ABC that "the Iranians are trying to perfect a nuclear option" and would "reach nuclear weapons" in four years. By 1997 the Israelis confidently predicted an active Iranian nuclear bomb by 2005.
On July 10, 1996, the newly-elected Israel Prime Minster, Benjamin Netanyahu, who had assumed office less than a month earlier, addressed a joint session of the United States Congress. During his speech, he warned of the imminent daner posed "unreconstructed dictatorships whose governmental creed is based on tyranny and intimidation," of which the "most dangerous" was Iran. Netanyahu stated that if Iran "were to acquire nuclear weapons, this could presage catastrophic consequences, not only for my country, and not only for the Middle East, but for all mankind," and claimed that "the deadline for attaining this goal is getting extremely close."
In March 1997, U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency director John Holum again attested to a House panel that Iran would develop a nuclear weapon sometime between 2005 and 2007.
The following month, according to a report in Hamburg's Welt am Sonntag, the German Federal Intelligence Service (Bundesnachrichtendienst, or BND) believed Iran had an active nuclear weapons development program and would be able to produce nuclear weapons by 2002, "although that timeframe could be accelerated if Iran acquires weapons-grade fissile material on the black market." Eight days later, in early May 1997, a Los Angeles Times article quoted a senior Israeli intelligence official as stating that Iran would be able to make a nuclear bomb by "the middle of the next decade."
On June 26, 1997, the U.S. military commander in the Persian Gulf, General Binford Peay, stated that, were Iran to acquire access to fissile material, it would obtain nuclear weapons "sometime at the turn of the century, the near-end of the turn of the century."
On July 30, 1997, The Christian Science Monitor claimed that "American pressure on Iran's nuclear suppliers seems to have forced Iran to adjust its suspected timetable for a bomb - once thought to be 2000," adding, "Experts now say Iran is unlikely to acquire nuclear weapons for eight or 10 years."
In September 1997, Jane's Intelligence Defense Review reported that former U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher declared, "we know that since the mid-1980s, Iran has had an organized structure dedicated to acquiring and developing nuclear weapons," as then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that the Iranian nuclear technology program "may be the most dangerous development in the 21st century."
An article by two nonproliferation experts, Andrew Koch and Jeanette Wolf, asking "How Close [Is Iran] To The Bomb?," was published in The Nonproliferation Review in the fall of 1997. Noting that "U.S. officials have repeatedly said that Iran has an active program to build or acquire nuclear weapons, and is five to 10 years away from realizing that goal," the authors wrote that such an assessment was "difficult to substantiate" based on all available information. They concluded that, "unless it secures sufficient quantities of weapons-grade fissile material on the black market, Tehran is unlikely to have the ability to field even simple nuclear weapons for at least 10 to 15 years."
In an interview with BBC television on Sunday, November 16, 1997, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed that "Iran could pose a bigger danger than Iraq and that Tehran may even end up with nuclear weapons aimed at the United States," reported The Jerusalem Post.
A month later, on December 17, 1997, The Jerusalem Post reported on Israeli Knesset minister Ephraim Sneh's claims that "the Russians are giving Teheran the technology and that the Iranians already have biological and chemical warheads." In the report, Sneh was quoted as saying, "According to intelligence estimates, they may have a nuclear warhead within 18 months. There is therefore a threat that in a few years' time, Iran will have the ability to strike Israel with weapons of mass destruction."
Writing in The Jerusalem Post on April 9, 1998, Steve Rodan claimed "Documents obtained by the Jerusalem Post show Iran has four nuclear bombs" which it received "from a former Soviet republic in the early 1990s and Russian experts maintained them." The next day, U.S. State Department spokesperson James Rubin addressed this allegation, stating, "There was no evidence to substantiate such claims."
Nevertheless, another Jerusalem Post article reported that "Iran paid $25 million for what appears to have been two tactical atomic weapons smuggled out of the former Soviet Union in a highly classified operation aided by technicians from Argentina."
The alarming news continued. On April 16, 1998, The Jerusalem Post reported that two U.S. Congressmen, Jim Saxton of New Jersey and Bill McCollum of Florida, "say Iran has obtained nuclear weapons as well as established a ballistic missile command and control system to launch them." Saxton insisted, "I believe that Iran already has nuclear weapons and that our policy should reflect that," while McCollum declared, "I believe that prudence dictates that US policy toward Teheran must be based on the fact that Iran has already crossed the nuclear threshold."
The following week, another Steve Rodan article, published on April 24, 1998, noted that "Israeli government experts have deemed as genuine Iranian government documents obtained from the US that report Teheran's receipt of nuclear devices from Kazahkstan in 1992." The report stated that, according to a US analyst, "government nuclear experts, including those in the CIA and Energy Department, are convinced that Iran has some sort of a non-operational nuclear device. But until now they can't prove it." Nevertheless, Republican representative Curt Weldon said that "if what the Israeli press is saying is true, and it will be a major problem for us because it means not only that Iran within 12 months from now (will have) medium range missiles, but it will also have a warhead to put onto that missile."
On July 15, 1998, a Congressional Commission chaired by Donald Rumsfeld determined that "Iran is developing weapons of mass destruction. It has a nuclear energy and weapons program, which aims to design, develop, and as soon as possible produce nuclear weapons." The Commission also judged that, due to "significant gaps in our knowledge," "Iran may soon have or already has a nuclear weapon" and that "the U.S. is unlikely to know whether Iran possesses nuclear weapons until after the fact." Furthermore, the Commission claimed that, if Iran violated its safeguards agreements with the IAEA, it could "construct a small number of weapons within the next ten years," whereas if Iran acquired "enough fissile material from foreign sources, it might be able to develop a nuclear weapon in only one to three years."
On July 23, 1998, the New York Times declared "Iran is working on developing a nuclear warhead but is believed to be years away from building and testing such a weapon. The United States is not certain of the sophistication of Iran's programs," before quoting Gary Milhollin, described as "a leading expert on the spread of weaponry," as insisting that "Iran is bent on acquiring nuclear weapons.''
On August 4, 1998, a New Straits Times report noted, "The Pentagon was unequivocal: 'Iran will have nuclear weapons before the year 2000,' its analysts said recently."
On October 21, 1998, General Anthony Zinni, head of U.S. Central Command, said Iran could have deliverable nuclear weapons by 2003. "If I were a betting man," he said, "I would say they are on track within five years, they would have the capability."
The next year, on November 21, 1999, a senior Israeli military official was quoted by AP reporter Ron Kampeas (who was later hired as Washington bureau chief for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency) saying, "Unless the United States pressures Russia to end its military assistance to Iran, the Islamic republic will possess a nuclear capability within five years."
On December 9, 1999, General Zinni reiterated his assessment that Iran "will have nuclear capability in a few years."
In a January 2000 New York Times article co-authored by Judith Miller, it was reported that the CIA suggested to the Clinton administration "that Iran might now be able to make a nuclear weapon," even though this assessment was "apparently not based on evidence that Iran's indigenous efforts to build a bomb have achieved a breakthrough," but rather that "the United States cannot track with great certainty increased efforts by Iran to acquire nuclear materials and technology on the international black market."
On March 9, 2000, the BBC stated that German intelligence once again believed Iran to be "working to develop missiles and nuclear weapons." The Telegraph reported on September 27, 2000 that the CIA believes Iran's nuclear weapons capability to be progressing rapidly and suggests Iran will develop an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching London or New York within the next decade. CIA Deputy Director Norman Schindler is quoted as saying, "Iran is attempting to develop the capability to produce both plutonium and highly enriched uranium, and it is actively pursuing the acquisition of fissile material and the expertise and technology necessary to form the material into nuclear weapons."
By the summer of 2001, Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer was warning that Iran could have " a nuclear bomb within four years," and that, sometime in the next decade, the Iranian nuclear program would reach a "point of no return," from which time "it would be impossible to stop it from attaining a bomb." Because he claimed that "Iran threatens the entire free world," he urged the United States government to "focus on Iran, not Iraq." By the end of the year, despite an inquiry into the questionable validity of Israeli intelligence regarding the Iranian nuclear program, Mossad head Efraim Halevy repeated the claim that Iran is developing nuclear and other non-conventional weapons.
On September 20, 2001, just nine days after the attacks of 9/11, former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed U.S. House Government Reform Committee and insisted that "the US must do everything in its power to prevent regimes like Iran and Iraq from developing nuclear weapons, and disarm them of their weapons of mass destruction."
In early 2002, the CIA again issued a report alleging that Iran "remains one of the most active countries seeking to acquire (weapons of mass destruction and advanced conventional weapons) technology from abroad...In doing so, Tehran is attempting to develop a domestic capability to produce various types of weapons — chemical, biological, nuclear — and their delivery systems." Soon thereafter, CIA Director George Tenet testified before a Senate hearing that Iran may be able to "produce enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon by the end of this decade...Obtaining material from outside could cut years from this estimate."
During his "Axis-of-Evil" State of the Union address on January 29, 2002, George W. Bush declared that Iran was "aggressively" pursuing weapons of mass destruction.
On January 31, 2002, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice told Conservative Political Action conference in Arlington, Virginia that "Iran's direct support of regional and global terrorism and its aggressive efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction belie any good intentions it displayed in the days after the world's worst terrorist attacks in history."
On February 7, 2002, Israeli Defense Minister Benjamin Ben Eliezer told reporters in Washington D.C. that "Iran could have a nuclear weapon within three to five years." "By the year 2005 they will be ready to produce to the world for the first time an Iranian nuclear bomb," Israeli Defense Minister Benjamin Ben Eliezer was quoted in the Chicago Tribune as saying. "Some of us think it could come earlier." The paper added, "U.S. intelligence officials told lawmakers, meanwhile, that Iran would be in a position to field a nuclear warhead by the end of the decade, a slightly less alarmist position than Israel's."
On July 29, 2002, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Marshall Billingslea testified to the Senate that "Iran is aggressively pursuing nuclear weapons."
Three days later, after a meeting with Russian officials on August 1, U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham stated that Iran was "aggressively pursuing nuclear weapons as well as [other] weapons of mass destruction." By the end of the year, on December 13, 2002, White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer was reiterating U.S. concerns about, what he termed, Iran's "across-the-board pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and missile capabilities."
In an interview with the Times of London on November 5, 2002, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon claimed Iran was making "every effort to possess weapons of mass destruction."
In an interview with CNBC on February 2003, U.S. Undersecretary of State John Bolton said that Iran is seeking technological assistance from North Korea and China to enhance its weapons of mass destruction programs. In April 2003, John Wolf, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State, accused Iran of having an "alarming, clandestine program."
That same month, the Los Angeles Times stated that "there is evidence that Iran is developing nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction," in a polling question regarding American attitudes toward Iran. The question followed, "Do you think the U.S. should or should not take military action against Iran if they continue to develop these weapons?" Fifty percent of respondents thought the U.S. should attack Iran.
The Telegraph reported on June 1, 2003 that "Senior Pentagon officials are proposing widespread covert operations against the government in Iran, hoping that dissident groups will mount a coup before the regime acquires a nuclear weapon." The report contained a quote from a U.S. "government official with close links to the White House" as saying "There are some who see the overthrow of the regime as the only way to deal with the danger of Iran possessing a nuclear weapon. But there's not going to be another war. The idea is to destabilize from inside. No one's talking about invading anywhere."
A few days later, Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom told the Russian daily newspaper Izvestia "that Iran could develop weapons of mass destruction within three years."
A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll taken in late June 2003 asked Americans, "How likely do you think it is that Iran is developing weapons of mass destruction?" 46% of those surveyed said "very likely," while another 38% said "somewhat likely." Only 2% replied "not at all likely."
In a speech before the Jerusalem Center on Public Affairs, Israeli lawmaker Ephraim Sneh, then chair of the Knesset Subcommittee on Defense Planning and Policy, declared, "There is a very serious Iranian effort to develop a nuclear bomb, and the assessment is that it is going to happen in two or three years, no doubt in the second half of this decade."
An investigation by The Los Angeles Times, the findings of which were published on August 4, 2003, concluded that "Iran appears to be in the late stages of developing the capacity to build a nuclear bomb." The report noted, "No one is certain when Iran might produce its first atomic weapon. Some experts said two or three years; others believe the government has probably not given a final go-ahead. But it is clear that Iran is moving purposefully and rapidly toward acquiring the capability." A French government assessment, mentioned by the Times, found that "Iran appears ready to develop nuclear weapons within a few years."
An August 5, 2003 report in the Jerusalem Post stated that "Iran will have the materials needed to make a nuclear bomb by 2004 and will have an operative nuclear weapons program by 2005, a high-ranking military officer told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee."
On August 12, 2003, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, then a "senior fellow" at the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute, published an opinion piece in USA Today in which he claimed Iran, among other countries, was using advanced "tunneling technology" to "get closer to an ability to create a weapons-of-mass-death facility that simply will be out of our reach." He suggested that, "in order to pre-empt such weapons of mass murder, and those who would use them," the United States should build and use "a very accurate, limited and reliable low-yield nuclear weapon— a 'bunker buster'" to destroy these facilities.
On October 21, 2003, Major General Aharon Ze'evi, Israel's Director of Military Intelligence, declared in Ha'aretz that "by the summer of 2004, Iran will have reached the point of no return in its attempts to develop nuclear weapons." A few weeks later, the CIA released a semi-annual unclassified report to Congress which stated Iran had "vigorously" pursued production of weapons of mass destruction and that the "United States remains convinced that Tehran has been pursuing a clandestine nuclear weapons program."
By mid-November 2003, Mossad intelligence service chief Meir Dagan testified for the first time before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and said that Iran was close to the "point of no return" in developing nuclear arms, irreversible progress that would be reached within the next year. This assessment was echoed by Israeli Defense Minster Shaul Mofaz. Dagan also said that "Iran was close to completing the building of a uranium enrichment facility and it would have the potential to produce 10 nuclear bombs a year."
On December 2, 2003, John Bolton, Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security, delivered a speech entitled "Nuclear Weapons and Rogue States: Challenge and Response" to the Conference of the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis and the Fletcher School s International Security Studies Program. "Although Iran has biological, chemical and missile programs," he said, "I will focus today on their nuclear weapons program, which Iran itself has acknowledged has been underway for at least eighteen years," before declaring that Iran's nuclear program "can only be an attempt to build a capacity to develop nuclear materials for nuclear weapons."
In early 2004, Ken Brill, U.S. Ambassador to the IAEA, reiterated the American position that Iran's nuclear efforts are "clearly geared to the development of nuclear weapons."
On March 4, 2004, The Washington Times published an editorial, entitled "Iran's nuclear menace," in which the paper warned that, after recent parliamentary elections in Iran and "returned hard-liners to power...now the real possibility exists of nuclear tests being conducted without political opposition." The article goes on to claim that "Iran's mullahs have longed for nuclear bombs since coming to power in 1980. Their pacifying statements and superficial compliance with IAEA inspection teams are masking an unrelenting drive to buy time for their scientists to complete work on the first Shi'ite Islamic bomb." The editors insisted, "There is not a minute to waste in stopping them. With centrifuge technology far more advanced than previously believed, Iran’s scientists have been frantically working away on obtaining critical bomb fuel with as many as three separate programs." The Washington Times concluded that "Iran is on the verge of becoming perhaps the world's most dangerous nuclear state" and that "the atomic clock keeps on ticking."
In the March/April 2004 issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, David Albright and Corey Hinderstein of the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) wrote that Iran's uranium enrichment plant at Natanz could, if run at full capacity, "produce roughly 500 kilograms of weapon-grade uranium annually," which would be "enough for 25-30 nuclear weapons per year." They added, "It wouldn't take long to enrich the low-enriched material to weapon grade" and that, if Iran decided to, "the facility could produce enough weapon-grade uranium for a single weapon within days."
On April 26, 2004, Israeli ambassador to the United States Daniel Ayalon told the annual Anti-Defamation League conference that Iran making progress on its nuclear program. "If we thought a few years ago that they are five or six years shy from a nuclear device," he said, "now it's being very sharply reduced, the time that they can achieve that."
On July 22, 2004, Reuters reported that an Israeli intelligence report, the conclusions of which were partially leaked to the press, determined that "within three years Iran would have the means to produce an atomic bomb by itself."
On August 4, 2004, The New York Times published its own editorial entitled "Iran's Nuclear Challenge," which declared Iran "a real nuclear threat" and opined that "Iran gives every indication of building all the essential elements of a nuclear weapons program," later warning of Iran's "apparent drive to build nuclear weapons." The editors claimed that "it is fair to presume that Iran means to use the centrifuges to produce bomb fuel," suggesting that Iranian leaders could "just be playing for time to develop their enrichment capacity before quitting the nuclear treaty and building bombs." The Times wrote, "The world cannot afford to wait long" to confront this Iranian threat. In a letter to the paper the following week, Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona agreed.
On August 8, 2004, The New York Times featured a front page article written by David Sanger headlined, "Diplomacy Fails to Slow Advance of Nuclear Arms," which claimed that "American intelligence officials and outside nuclear experts have concluded that the Bush administration's diplomatic efforts with European and Asian allies have barely slowed the nuclear weapons programs in Iran and North Korea over the past year, and that both have made significant progress." Sanger quotes unnamed U.S. government sources as admitting to increasing covert actions against Iran in order "'to disrupt or delay as long as we can" what Sanger calls "Iran's efforts to develop a nuclear weapon."
Sanger also quotes former CAI director Robert Gates, then the president of Texas A&M University, as stating, "The evidence suggests that Iran is trying to keep all of its options open. They are trying to stay just within their treaty obligations." Sanger writes that Gates claims Iran is "producing highly enriched uranium" which it wasn't and never has done. "I think they can go with a weapon whenever they want to," Gates concluded. Regarding Israeli threats against Iran, Sanger quotes another anonymous official: "They are doing what they can to delay the Iranian program and preparing military options."
In an August 17, 2004 speech at the neoconservative Hudson Institute, then Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton declared that Iran is "dead set on building nuclear weapons" and "is pursuing two separate paths" to achieve that goal. He warned, "If we permit Iran’s deception to go on much longer, it will be too late. Iran will have nuclear weapons."
On September 7, 2004, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was quoted in The Jerusalem Post as saying that "there is no doubt Iran is making efforts to have nuclear weapons." He insisted, "That is their intention, and they are doing it by deception and subterfuge, using this cover or that. This is completely clear."
Henry Sokolski, the neoconservative Executive Director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, claimed in the National Review on September 21, 2004, "Iran is already too close to making bombs for us ever to rest easy," adding, "It would be nice if we could precision-bomb or appease Iran out of its nuclear capabilities, but, short of overthrowing the current regime, neither is likely to produce lasting results." His article was republished nearly verbatim six days later in the Wall Street Journal under the headline, "It's Almost Too Late to Stop Iran."
On October 26, 2004, Trita Parsi, founder and president of the National Iranian American Council, conducted an interview for his book "Treacherous Alliance - The Secret Dealings of Iran, Israel and the United States" (published three years later) with Shlomo Brom, a researcher at the Tel Aviv-based Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies. Brom spoke of the Israeli government and military's use of "worst-case scenarios" to advance its own propaganda. “It’s much easier to give worst-case scenarios," he said. "It usually serves the personal interest of the planner. Because if you are giving the worst-case prophecy, then when it is not realized, everyone is happy. No one remembers it. But when it is realized, you can always say, 'I told you so.'" Parsi writes that Brom, who had previously served as director of the Strategic Planning Division in the Planning Branch of the General Staff of the IDF, "had been part of the Israeli intelligence apparatus when it systematically overestimated, and at times exaggerated, Iran's nuclear capabilities." He quotes Brom as admitting,
"Remember, the Iranians are always ﬁve to seven years from the bomb. Time passes but they’re always ﬁve to seven years from the bomb." (p. 167)A November 17, 2004 article in The Washington Post reported that, according to U.S. Defense Secretary Colin Powell, "[t]he United States has intelligence that Iran is working to adapt missiles to deliver a nuclear weapon, further evidence that the Islamic republic is determined to acquire a nuclear bomb." Powell added, "There is no doubt in my mind -- and it's fairly straightforward from what we've been saying for years -- that they have been interested in a nuclear weapon that has utility, meaning that it is something they would be able to deliver, not just something that sits there."
On January 24, 2005, Mossad chief Meir Dagan again claimed that Iran's nuclear program was almost at the "point of no return," adding "the route to building a bomb is a short one" and that Iran could possess a nuclear weapon in less than three years.
On January 27, 2005, the Guardian quoted Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz stating the same thing. He warned that Iran would reach "the point of no return" within the next twelve months in its covert attempt to secure a nuclear weapons capability.
A week later, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said on CNN that it was "fairly clear" Iran was "on a path of seeking a nuclear weapon," but claimed that Iran was "some years away" from building a nuclear bomb, "according to the estimates." Rumsfeld added, "But I don't know if the estimates are correct or not."
A Fox News opinion poll taken in late January 2005 found that 41% of Americans believed "the United States should take military action to keep Iran from developing or trying to develop a nuclear weapons program."
On February 16, 2005, Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Vice Admiral Lowell E. Jacoby, told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that "Iran is likely continuing nuclear weapon-related endeavors in an effort to become the dominant regional power and deter what it perceives as the potential for US or Israeli attacks," warning that "[u]nless constrained by a nuclear non-proliferation agreement, Tehran probably will have the ability to produce nuclear weapons early in the next decade."
The same day, Reuters quoted Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom as saying that Iran was "trying very hard to develop the nuclear bomb," adding, "The question is not if the Iranians will have a nuclear bomb in 2009, 10 or 11, the main question is when are they going to have the knowledge to do it. We believe in six months from today they will end all the tests and experiments they are doing to have that knowledge."
A diplomatic cable from the American Embassy in Tel Aviv noted on March 5, 2005 that Israeli Defense Minister Mofaz said Iran is "less than one year away" from mastering "full enrichment capability," while "the head of research in military intelligence estimated that Iran would reach this point by early 2007." The cable adds that some Israeli officials "admitted informally that these estimates need to be taken with caution" with the head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Strategic Affairs Division recalling that "[Israeli] assessments from 1993 predicted that Iran would possess an atomic bomb by 1998 at the latest."
In an interview with FoxNews on April 13, 2005, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon insisted there was "no doubt" Iranian leaders' "main thought is to possess nuclear weapons" and that they are "working secretly" to achieve that result. When asked how long it would take for Iran to acquire such weapons, Sharon said he didn't know, but that the more important issue was when to "declare the point of no return." He continued, "Once they will solve their technical problems, then I think the situation will deteriorate. And I would say then, it doesn't make any difference if we take another year or another few years."
On May 11, 2005, the Washington Post published the transcript of an online chat with Joseph Cirincione, Director for Nonproliferation at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, in which Cirincione described the potential danger of a domestic Iranian uranium enrichment program. "The same plants that can enrich uranium to low levels for fuel rods, can enrich uranium to high levels for bombs," Cirincione explained. "The same plants that can reprocess the spent fuel rods (extracting their plutonium, uranium and waste products) for disposal can also reprocess the rods to make plutonium for bombs. This is the essence of the Iran problem. We can live with an Iran with nuclear power reactors, we cannot accept an Iran with the plants to enrich uranium or reprocess plutonium." An Iran with full control over the nuclear fuel cycle, Cirincione claimed - echoing an assessment from a then-recent (since updated) Carnegie policy paper that he co-authored - "would put them 'a screwdriver's turn' away from bomb-making capability."
On May 20, 2005, The Los Angeles Times reported that Undersecretary of State R. Nicholas Burns told a Congressional committee that the U.S. saw "no sign Iran has made the necessary strategic decision to abandon its nuclear ambitions."
A July 1, 2005 intelligence assessment compiling information gathered by British, French, German and Belgian agencies claimed that "the Iranian government has been successfully scouring Europe for the sophisticated equipment needed to develop a nuclear bomb," according to The Guardian in an article headlined, "Secret services say Iran is trying to assemble a nuclear missile." The leaked intelligence report also stated that "Iran has developed an extensive web of front companies, official bodies, academic institutes and middlemen dedicated to obtaining - in western Europe and in the former Soviet Union - the expertise, training, and equipment for nuclear programmes, missile development, and biological and chemical weapons arsenals."
By August 2, 2005, a "high-ranking IDF officer" told the Jerusalem Post that Israel has revised its earlier estimate that Iran would have a nuclear bomb by 2008, now putting the estimate closer to 2012. The same day, a major U.S. intelligence review projected that Iran was approximately "a decade away from manufacturing the key ingredient for a nuclear weapon, roughly doubling the previous estimate of five years," reported The Washington Post.
Two weeks later, however, Israeli military chief General Aharon Zeevi contradicted both the new Israeli and U.S. estimates. "Barring an unexpected delay," he said, "Iran is going to become nuclear capable in 2008 and not in 10 years."
In a National Defense University paper published in August 2005, Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) head David Albright wrote, "The next several months may well decide whether Iran will develop a capability to make nuclear weapons," concluding that "Iran does not appear to have nuclear weapons and seems unlikely to be able to make them for at least several years."
The Council on Foreign Relations published a "backgrounder" report entitled "IRAN: The Nuclear Threat" on September 6, 2005. In it, author Esther Pan wrote that "most international proliferation experts suspect the fundamentalist Muslim theocracy is using its nuclear program to enrich uranium to higher levels than necessary for civilian nuclear-energy production and secretly trying to manufacture nuclear weapons."
A report the Independent (UK) from September 21, 2005 quoted Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon as claiming again that once Iran solved "technical problems" that were preventing the immediate development of nuclear weapons "we then will reach a point of no return." The article adds, "Without giving evidence, Sylvan Shalom, Israel's Foreign Minister, implied that it could be as early as next year. He told a meeting of Jewish leaders in New York: 'According to our people, security and intelligence, they are very, very close. It may be only six months before they will have that full knowledge.'"
An intelligence analysis of Iran's nuclear program conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy and included in a State Department briefing in September 2005 stated that "Iran's uranium resources cannot support the peaceful program Iran says it is pursuing," but are "more than sufficient to support a nuclear weapons capability." Iran's reserves "are well-scaled to give Iran a significant number of nuclear weapons," the analysis claimed, adding, "It is difficult to escape the conclusion that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons."
On September 29, 2005, The Washington Times quoted a number of Israeli officials all dismissing the necessity of diplomacy and urging the United States to act militarily against Iran's nuclear facilities. According to the report, Yuval Steinitz, chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, "said Israeli officials estimate that Tehran is only two to three years away from developing a nuclear bomb and that time was running out for the world to act."
In November 2005, Mohammad Mohaddessin, chair of the so-called National Council of Resistance of Iran (otherwise known as the Islamist/Marxist terrorist cult Mojahadeen-e Khalq, or MEK, which is currently designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. government) addressed a European Parliament conference and proclaimed that the "Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is determined to pursue and complete Tehran's nuclear weapons program full blast...[and] would have the bomb in two or three years time."
Mossad head Meir Dagan chimed in again in December 2005, telling the Israeli Knesset that "Iran is one to two years away, at the latest, from having enriched uranium. From that point, the completion of their nuclear weapon is simply a technical matter."
On December 11, 2005, Israeli professor Gerald M. Steinberg of Bar-Ilan University published a paper for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs entitled, "Can Diplomacy Still Prevent Iran from Going Nuclear?," in which he wrote, "There is no basis for accepting the Iranian claim that it is not seeking nuclear weapons or the assertion that a nuclear Iran is not dangerous" and determined that "[i]t could take two years, five years, or even ten," before Iran "will be seen as a de facto nuclear weapons state."
David Albright and Corey Hinderstein of the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) wrote on January 12, 2006, "Given another year to make enough HEU for a nuclear weapon and a few more months to convert the uranium into weapon components, Iran could have its first nuclear weapon in 2009. By this time, Iran is assessed to have had sufficient time to prepare the other components of a nuclear weapon, although the weapon may not be deliverable by a ballistic missile." Albright and Hinderstein, however, acknowledged, "This result reflects a worst case assessment."
On January 16, 2006, The Telegraph published a report by resident Iran hawk Con Coughlin entitled, "Iran 'could go nuclear within three years.'" The article claimed that the centrifuges operating at Natanz (a facility under full IAEA safeguards despite the fact that Coughlin describes it as "top-secret") could enable Iran "to create enriched uranium of sufficient quality for nuclear weapons production within three years. Previous estimates of the minimum time required had ranged from five to 10 years." Coughlin writes of Western "suspicions that Iran is well advanced in its clandestine programme to build a nuclear weapon," adding, "Nuclear experts working for the intelligence agencies have concluded that it now has the resources necessary for developing a nuclear weapon." He also quotes "senior western intelligence officer" as saying, "Iran has spent the past 20 years scouring the world to acquire all the means of production and materials necessary for building nuclear weapons. The big intelligence debate now is not whether Iran can build a bomb, but how long it will take them to build it."
On January 18, 2006, Donald Rumsfeld told Fox News that Iran was "acquiring nuclear weapons."
A CNN/USA Today/Gallup survey conducted in late January 2006 asked, "Based on what you have heard or read, do you think that the government of Iran is or is not attempting to develop its own nuclear weapons?" 88% of those polled said Iran is.
82% of respondents to a Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll taken around the same time believed "Iran wants to use the uranium for military purposes, such as to build a nuclear weapons program." 68% thought "Iran currently has a nuclear weapons program," an increase of 8% from the previous year.
On January 24, 2006, the Christian Science Monitor reported that "Israeli intelligence argues that Iran is only two years away from a bomb, but others think it will take more time," adding that David Albright's ISIS think tank "says Iran could have its first nuclear weapon by 2009."
An article entitled, "Analysts: Iran will make atomic bomb," was published in the Miami Herald on January 30, 2006 and claimed that a number of "European foreign-policy specialists believe it may not be possible to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons." The dispatch quotes Dutch researcher Dick Leurdijk as saying, "Iran has been pursuing nuclear weapons for years, but now, in the framework of President Ahmadinejad's second Islamic revolution, they fit perfectly. He not only wants them, he wants to use them as a threat to expand Islamic influence." German policy analyst Karl-Heinz Kamp agreed, explaining that the Iranian was so unified in its desire for a nuclear bomb that "there is no carrot, nor is there a stick, that will work to stop them from pursuing a course of getting a bomb."
In a February 2, 2006 statement to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, U.S. Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte insisted that, "despite its claims to the contrary, we assess that Iran seeks nuclear weapons. We judge that Tehran probably does not yet have a nuclear weapon and probably has not yet produced or acquired the necessary fissile material."
An Associated Press report from February 15, 2006 commented that the numerous, erroneous past predictions of Iran's ever-looming nuclear weapon "consistently underplayed the technological challenges of a bomb program" and that "the coming of any Iranian doomsday arsenal looks to be years away, experts say." The article states that "few specialists view a potential Iranian bomb as an imminent threat," continuing, "In fact, the latest estimate from the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies sees no Iranian bomb before the next decade. Israeli defense experts agree, speaking of a 2012 date."
On March 1, 2006, Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Pat Roberts wrote an op-ed for The Hill in which he stated that "Iran, if it continues on its current path, will likely have the capability to produce nuclear weapons within the next decade."
On March 5, 2006, David Sanger and William Broad wrote in The New York Times, "Estimates of just when Iran might acquire a nuclear weapon range from alarmist views of only a few months to roughly 15 years. American intelligence agencies say it will take 5 to 10 years for Iran to manufacture the fuel for its first atomic bomb."
Two days later, in a speech delivered at the neoconservative Washington think-tank The Hudson Institute on March 7, 2006, former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon claimed that Iran was sure to acquire "the knowledge to produce nuclear weapons" in "six to eighteen months" and that, unless its nefarious plans were thwarted, the Islamic Republic would have deliverable nukes "within three to five years."
On March 14, 2006, right-wing pundit Morton. M. Kondracke said on Fox News' "Special Report with Brit Hume" that, "depending on who you listen to," it will take Iran "between six months and two years" to produce "the material that they need for a nuclear weapon."
Two weeks later, Kondracke was back on the same program to insist that "the experts that I talked to think that on the basis of what the Iranians have announced that they are going to do, as to enrichment...they will be able to have enough fissile material of their own making for a bomb sometime next summer, summer 2007." NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson also chimed in: "Time is running out. Pretty soon, Iran is going to have the bomb."
On March 31, 2006, The Los Angeles Times claimed, "Some administration and European officials have suggested that Iran could make enough enriched uranium for a bomb in three years," while adding, "Many other experts say the technical difficulties would make such a short time frame almost impossible."
In an April 9, 2006 Washington Post report about supposed American preparations for a military strike on Iran, the paper noted that the Bush "administration is also coming under pressure from Israel, which has warned the Bush team that Iran is closer to developing a nuclear bomb than Washington thinks and that a moment of decision is fast approaching."
On April 12, 2006, responding to reports that Iran would be enriching uranium on an "industrial scale" at its Natanz facility, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation Stephen Rademaker told reporters in Moscow that "a 3,000-machine cascade could produce enough uranium to build a nuclear weapon within 271 days," adding that a program employing "50,000 centrifuges...could produce enough highly enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon in 16 days."
On an April 15, 2006 edition of Fox News' "The Journal Editorial Report," Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens declared, "[O]ur estimates that the Iranians are ten years or five years away from making a bomb were wildly exaggerated. They're going to be able to enrich uranium in the next year or two. So, it adds urgency to the crisis."
In an April 17, 2006 report in The New Yorker, investigative journalist Seymour Hersh quoted a U.S. government consultant connected to the Pentagon as saying that George W. Bush was "absolutely convinced that Iran is going to get the bomb" and WINEP's Patrick Clawson as claiming, "So long as Iran has an Islamic republic, it will have a nuclear-weapons program, at least clandestinely." In the same article, Hersh reported former CIA agent Robert Baer as declaring that the Iranians "are capable of making a bomb, hiding it, and launching it at Israel. They're apocalyptic Shiites. If you're sitting in Tel Aviv and you believe they’ve got nukes and missiles - you've got to take them out. These guys are nuts, and there's no reason to back off."
The same article revealed even more predictions. Robert Gallucci, a former government expert on nonproliferation and dean of Georgetown's School of Foreign Service, told Hersh, “Based on what I know, Iran could be eight to ten years away” from developing a deliverable nuclear weapon," while a high-ranking diplomat suggested, by the IAEA's best guess, "the Iranians are five years away from building a nuclear bomb."
Soon after a new U.S. intelligence report on the Iranian nuclear program was released, conservative radio host Laura Ingraham asked Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on April 18, 2006 if he was "confident that that estimate of a few days ago of being five years or perhaps even ten years away is realistic and accurate given the fact that in the past we've certainly underestimated nuclear capabilities." Rumsfeld replied, "No, I'm not confident."
Neoconservative ideologue and historian Bernard Lewis wrote in the Wall Street Journal on August 8, 2006, "It seems increasingly likely that the Iranians either have or very soon will have nuclear weapons at their disposal, thanks to their own researches (which began some 15 years ago), to some of their obliging neighbors, and to the ever-helpful rulers of North Korea." Lewis, citing what he termed "the apocalyptic worldview of Iran's present rulers," predicted that Iran would launch a nuclear attack on Israel (and possibly the entire world) on August 22 of that year, in order to induce Armageddon.
On August 21, 2006, Director of National Intelligence Negroponte affirmed the estimate, telling the press that the U.S.' official "assessment at the moment is that even though we believe that Iran is determined to acquire or obtain a nuclear weapon, that we believe that it is still a number of years off before they are likely to have enough fissile material to assemble into, or to put into a nuclear weapon; perhaps into the next decade."
On August 23, 2006, the U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence released a 29-page report entitled "Recognizing Iran as a Strategic Threat: An Intelligence Challenge for the United States." The report, which according to the Washington Post was "principally written by a Republican staff member," stated that Iran was engaged in "active denial and deception efforts," was a "vital threat," and was "currently enriching uranium to weapons grade." It claimed, "Iran has conducted a clandestine uranium enrichment program for nearly two decades in violation of its International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards agreement, and despite its claims to the contrary, Iran is seeking nuclear weapons." In response, the IAEA itself said the report contained "some erroneous, misleading and unsubstantiated information," while identifying specific statements as "outrageous and dishonest" and others as "regrettable" and "incorrect."
On January 11, 2007, John Negroponte delivered his "Annual Threat Assessment" to Congress in which he declared that "Tehran is determined to develop nuclear weapons," deeming Iran's nuclear program a "menace."
In early February 2007, Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz told NATO secretary general Jaap de Hoop Scheffer in Brussels that "Iran is liable to go nuclear before the end of the present decade."
On February 27, 2007, The Washington Times reported the U.S. Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell as saying that "Tehran seeks to develop nuclear weapons" and that Iran "could have the capability to build nuclear weapons by 2015 and about the same time will be able to mount a nuclear warhead on a missile."
CBS News reported on April 26, 2007 that "a new intelligence report says Iran has overcome technical difficulties in enriching uranium and could have enough bomb-grade material for a single nuclear weapon in less than three years."
In late May 2007, IAEA head Mohammad ElBaradei stated that, even if Iran wanted to build a nuclear weapon (despite all evidence to the contrary), it would not be able to "before the end of this decade or some time in the middle of the next decade. In other words three to eight years from now."
On May 25, 2007, McClatchy reported that, according to an unnamed Bush administration official, "U.S. experts have concluded that 'Iran could be as little as two to three years away from having nuclear weapons, with all the necessary caveats and assumptions and extrapolations about them overcoming technical hurdles.'" The official added, "Admittedly, those are significant assumptions."
On April 7, 2007, ABC News cited ISIS head David Albright as claiming that, due to Iran's advancing uranium enrichment program, "you're looking at them having, potentially having enough highly enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon in 2009." The report noted, "Previous predictions by U.S. intelligence had cited 2015 as the earliest date Iran could develop a weapon," before quoting Albright again: "I think we have all been caught off guard," he said.
In the June 2007 issue of neoconservative bellwether Commentary Magazine, Norman Podhoretz claimed that nuclear negotiations had only "bought the Iranians more time in which they have moved closer and closer to developing nuclear weapons." The article, entitled "The Case for Bombing Iran" and relying heavily on disingenuous Holocaust analogies, stated that, if Iran's nuclear program and enrichment capabilities had progressed as far as President Ahmadinejad had said, "Iran is only a small step away from producing nuclear weapons."
On July 11, 2007, Ha'aretz reported that "Iran will cross the 'technological threshold' enabling it to independently manufacture nuclear weapons within six months to a year and attain nuclear capability as early as mid-2009, according to Israel's Military Intelligence." The report also noted that "U.S. intelligence predicts that Iran will attain nuclear capability within three to six years."
On September 28, 2007, Newsweek published an interview with IAEA chief ElBaradei, in which he said, "I don't see Iran, today, to be a clear and present danger. And our conclusion here is supported by every intelligence assessment I've seen that even if Iran has ambitions to develop nuclear weapons [which it denies], it's still three to eight years away from that. We need to continue to do robust verification. But we do not need to hype the issue."
A Fox News/Opinion Dynamics opinion poll taken in late September 2007 found that 80% of Americans believed Iran's nuclear program was for "military purposes."
Israeli President Shimon Peres issued an official statement on October 18, 2007 that claimed "everyone knows [Iran's] true intentions, and many intelligence agencies throughout the world have proof that Iran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons for the purpose of war and death."
Less than two months later, the New York Times released "Key Judgments From a National Intelligence Estimate on Iran's Nuclear Activity," a consensus view of all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies. The analysis, entitled "Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities," concluded with "high confidence" that the Iranian government had "halted its nuclear weapons program" in 2003, "had not restarted its nuclear weapons program as of mid-2007," and admitted that "we do not know whether it currently intends to develop nuclear weapons." The NIE also found that "Iran does not currently have a nuclear weapon" and that "Tehran's decision to halt its nuclear weapons program suggests it is less determined to develop nuclear weapons than we have been judging since 2005." Also included in the report was the assessment that, if Iran actually had a nuclear weapons program, "the earliest possible date Iran would be technically capable of producing enough HEU [highly enriched uranium] for a weapon is late 2009, but that this is very unlikely," continuing, "Iran probably would be technically capable of producing enough HEU for a weapon sometime during the 2010-2015 time frame," and adding that "All agencies recognize the possibility that this capability may not be attained until after 2015."
Reacting to the new NIE, a hawkish oped in the New York Times on December 6, 2007, insisted that Iran was still conducting clandestine work, "crucial to the ability to make a bomb... which bring[s] Iran closer to a nuclear weapon every day — two to seven years away."
A report released on February 7, 2008 by the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), headed by David Albright, asserted that Iran had tested a new, and more efficient, centrifuge design to enrich uranium. If 1,200 new centrifuges were operational, the report suggested, Iran could produce enough weapons-grade uranium for a bomb in one year.
Less than a week later, Israeli Prime Minster Ehud Olmert told reporters, "We are certain that the Iranians are engaged in a serious...clandestine operation to build up a non-conventional capacity." Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, in a speech at West Point that Spring, claimed that Iran "is hellbent on acquiring nuclear weapons."
On April 29, 2008, William Broad of The New York Times published what the paper deemed "A Tantalizing Look at Iran's Nuclear Program." Noting that "Washington and its allies see a looming threat" from Iran, Broad detailed the enrichment process and discussed a new generation of centrifuge being manufactured by Iran before adding that "American intelligence agencies say the earliest Iran could make a nuclear weapon is 2009, but consider 2010 to 2015 a more likely time frame."
In May 2008, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), Germany's foreign intelligence agency, issued a report which claimed the BND has amassed evidence which "showed comprehensively" that, contrary to the findings of the 2007 NIE, "development work on nuclear weapons can be observed in Iran even after 2003."
In a speech before the Israeli Knesset on May 15, 2008, George W. Bush insisted that the United States "firmly" opposed what he called "Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions," and added, "Permitting the world's leading sponsor of terror to possess the world's deadliest weapon would be an unforgivable betrayal of future generations. For the sake of peace, the world must not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon."
On June 2, 2008, retired IDF Brigadier General and former Knesset member Ephraim Sneh told an AIPAC panel on U.S.-Israel relations, "A year from now, Iran will be very very close to the completion of its first nuclear bomb." Dennis Ross, who was also on the panel alongside Congressman Howard Berman and Liz Cheney, predicted that, by the next year, Iran would be "much closer to the brink [of possessing nuclear weapons] than it is and we're going to have to deal with it."
Speaking to reporter David Martin on June 24, 2008 as a "CBS consultant," historian Michael Oren - who was born and raised in the U.S. but emigrated to Israel and joined the Israeli military in 1979 - said, "The Iranians, according to Israeli security sources, will have an operable nuclear weapon by 2009. That's not a very long time." The following May, Oren accepted the position of Israeli Ambassador to the United States.
On June 28, 2008, Shabtai Shavit, a former Mossad deputy director and influential adviser to the Israeli Knesset's Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee, told The Sunday Telegraph that "worst-case scenario," Iran may have a nuclear weapon in "somewhere around a year."
Writing in The National Interest on September 9, 2008, former weapons inspector and Iraq Survey Group chief David Kay stated, "When we line up what we know and what we can best-guess, it looks like Iran is 80 percent of the way to a functioning nuclear weapon."
On September 12, 2008, The Telegraph declared, "Fresh evidence has emerged that suggests Iran has renewed work on developing nuclear weapons, according to Western security sources." The report claimed, "Experts responsible for monitoring Iran's nuclear program have discovered that enough enriched uranium, which if processed to weapons grade level could be used to make up to six atomic bombs, has disappeared from the main production facility at Isfahan." In response, the IAEA itself debunked these allegations in a statement explaining that "all nuclear material at Isfahan Uranium Convention Facility remains under IAEA control and surveillance and there is no evidence of missing nuclear material from the site." Furthermore, IAEA spokesperson Melissa Fleming added, "Uranium is not enriched at Isfahan as claimed by Telegraph but the fuel enrichment plant in Natanz which is under supervision of IAEA and there is no report on its deviation."
On September 22, 2008, Yossi Baidatz, Israel's Military Intelligence head of research, told the Knesset that "Iran is concentrating on uranium enrichment, and is making progress," and has "so far produced between one-third to one-half of the enriched material needed to build a bomb," reported The Jerusalem Post. "The time when they will have crossed the nuclear point-of-no-return is fast approaching," Baidatz said, adding, "Iran is in control of the technology and is moving with determination toward a nuclear bomb." The previous week, Baidatz had to the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that Iran would reach the so-called "point of no return" by 2011.
The same day, September 22, 2008, Associated Press reporter George Jahn wrote, "With time running out before Tehran develops potential nuclear weapons capacity, some worry that Israel or the U.S. might resort to military strikes if they believe all diplomatic options have been exhausted," before quoting ISIS' David Albright as claiming Iran "can be expected to reach [nuclear weapons capability] in six months to two years" and that "[a]dditional work - making a crude bomb to contain the uranium - would take no more than a 'several months.'"
Also that day, September 22, 2008, leading Iran hawks and advocates for right-wing Israeli policies Richard Holbrooke, James Woolsey, Dennis Ross and Mark Wallace published an oped in the Wall Street Journal warning that "Iran is now edging closer to being armed with nuclear weapons" and "even the most conservative estimates tell us that they could have nuclear weapons soon." Despite being at odds with facts, the writers claimed that Iran was in "open defiance of its treaty obligations under the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty" and "rejects the inspections mandated by the IAEA."
In an October 23, 2008 Washington Post op-ed, former Republican Senator Daniel R. Coats of Indiana and former Democratic Senator Charles S. Robb of Virginia wrote, "Time may be shorter than many imagine" with regards to "prevent[ing] Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons capability."
In November 2008, David Sanger and William Broad of The New York Times reported that "Iran has now produced roughly enough nuclear material to make, with added purification, a single atom bomb, according to nuclear experts." The article quoted nuclear physicist Richard L. Garwin, who helped invent the hydrogen bomb, as saying "They clearly have enough material for a bomb." Siegfried S. Hecker of Stanford University and a former director of the Los Alamos weapons laboratory said in the report that the growing size of the Iranian stockpile "underscored that they are marching down the path to developing the nuclear weapons option," while Thomas B. Cochran, a senior scientist in the nuclear program of the Natural Resources Defense Council declared, "They have a weapon’s worth." Peter D. Zimmerman, a physicist and former United States government arms scientist, cautioned that Iran was "very close" to nuclear weapons capability. "If it isn’t tomorrow, it's soon," he said, indicating the threshold could be reached in a matter of months.
On December 2, 2008, a new ISIS report written by David Albright, Jacqueline Shire, and Paul Brannan concluded that "Iran is moving steadily toward [nuclear] capability and is expected to reach that milestone during 2009 under a wide variety of scenarios."
David Blair, writing in The Telegraph on January 27, 2009, reported that the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) "has said Iran is months away from crossing a vital threshold which could put it on course to build a weapon," continuing that "Mark Fitzpatrick, the senior fellow for non-proliferation at the IISS, said: 'This year, it's very likely that Iran will have produced enough low-enriched uranium which, if further enriched, could constitute enough fissile material for one nuclear weapon, if that is the route Iran so desires.'"
Israeli Ambassador to Australia Yuval Rotem said on January 31, 2009 that Iran's stockpile of enriched uranium would "be at the point of no return" within the next 14 months.
During a panel discussion on February 5, 2009 at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey, reporter Barbara Slavin stated that "Iran has about 4,000 centrifuges spinning already, and it could conceivably have enough low-enriched uranium to make a nuclear weapon," adding that, even though she doubted whether Iran would eventually weaponize its nuclear program, "There isn’t much time to waste."
On February 9, 2009, newly-inaugurated President Barack Obama told CNN that Iran's "development of a nuclear weapon or their pursuit of a nuclear weapon" had the "possibility of destabilizing the region and are not only contrary to our interests, but I think are contrary to the interests of international peace."
On February 12, 2009, CIA Director-to-be Leon Panetta, told a Capitol Hill hearing, "From all the information I've seen, I think there is no question that [Iran is] seeking [nuclear weapons] capability." That day, Greg Miller began his Los Angeles Times article, which was entitled "U.S. now sees Iran as pursuing nuclear bomb," by writing, "Little more than a year after U.S. spy agencies concluded that Iran had halted work on a nuclear weapon, the Obama administration has made it clear that it believes there is no question that Tehran is seeking the bomb."
Later that month, Benjamin Netanyahu, then a candidate for Israeli Prime Minister, told a Congressional delegation led by Maryland Senator Ben Cardin that "he did not know for certain how close Iran was to developing a nuclear weapons capability, but that 'our experts' say Iran was probably only one or two years away and that was why they wanted open ended negotiations." Soon after that, Israel's top intelligence official Amos Yadlin said Iran had "crossed the technological threshold" and was now capable of making a weapon.
In contrast to these allegations, National Intelligence director Dennis Blair told a Senate hearing in early March 2009 that Iran had only low-enriched uranium, which would need further processing to be used for weapons, and continued to explain that Iran had "not yet made that decision" to convert it. "We assess now that Iran does not have any highly enriched uranium," Blair said.
Meanwhile, during a March 1, 2009 interview on CNN's "State of the Union," Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Admiral Mike Mullen was asked by John King whether "Iran might now have enough fissile material to make a bomb." Mullen replied, "We think they do, quite frankly."
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, in a Financial Times interview published April 1, 2009, was asked whether he thought Iran would cross Israel's "red line" of nuclear capability that year. He replied, "I don’t know, I would guess probably not," adding, "I think we have more time than that. How much more time I don’t know. It is a year, two years, three years. It is somewhere in that window."
On May 4, 2009, a U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee report stated, "A foreign intelligence agency and some U.N. officials estimated that Iran could reconfigure its centrifuge cascades and produce enough weapons-grade material for a bomb within six months," while maintaining, "There is no sign that Iran's leaders have ordered up a bomb."
According to the May 2009 press release from a "special national security panel of the Federal Supreme Court in Karlsruhe," German judges, using the information gathered by the BND intelligence agency, determined that "Iran in 2007 worked on the development of nuclear weapons."
The same month, the EastWest Institute, together with The Russian Committee of Scientists for Global Security and Arms Control, released a "U.S.-Russia Joint Threat Assessment on Iran's Nuclear and Missile Potential." The report concluded, "Under the most favorable circumstances, it might take Iran one year from the date of deciding to do so to make a simple nuclear device: three to six months to convert the LEU into HEU and perhaps another six months to convert the HEU into uranium metal. If the circumstances are not so favorable...it could take two or three years to produce a simple device." Additionally, the American and Russian experts who compiled the assessment suggested "[i]t could take Iran perhaps five years - and additional nuclear tests - to move from the first test of a simple nuclear device to the development of a nuclear bomb or warhead." From there it would still take years to produce a deliverable nuclear weapon.
Speaking in private with U.S. Congressmembers in late Spring 2009, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak "estimated a window between 6 and 18 months from now in which stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons might still be viable." In mid-June 2009, Mossad chief Meir Dagan said, "the Iranians will have by 2014 a bomb ready to be used, which would represent a concrete threat for Israel."
A report published by the Brookings Institute's Saban Center for Middle East Policy alleged that the "November 2007 National Intelligence Estimate on Iran’s nuclear program warned that it was possible (albeit "very unlikely") that Iran might be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon by 2009, although the period 2010-2015 was a more likely time frame."
On June 26, 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama told reporters that the Iranian nuclear program is "going to have to be dealt with because the clock is ticking," claiming that "Iran is developing nuclear capacity at a fairly rapid clip; they have been doing so for quite some time."
On July 8, 2009, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, warned that the "window is closing" for preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. Mullen claimed that Iran was only one to three years away from successfully building a nuclear weapon and "is very focused on developing this capability." A week later, Germany's BND foreign intelligence agency declared Iran was capable of producing and testing an atomic bomb within six months.
The following month, on August 3, The Times (UK) reported that Iran had "perfected the technology to create and detonate a nuclear warhead" and "could feasibly make a bomb within a year" if given the order by head of state Ali Khamenei.
On August 7, 2009, it was reported that Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair had recently told Congress that the U.S. "has no evidence that Iran has yet made the decision to produce highly enriched uranium" and that "Iran is unlikely to make such a decision for at least as long as international pressure and scrutiny persist." Furthermore, Blair said, the intelligence community "continues to assess it is unlikely that Iran will have the technical capability to produce HEU (highly enriched uranium) before 2013."
On September 9, 2009, in his inaugural speech to the IAEA in Vienna, Glyn Davies, Washington's chief envoy to the agency, insisted that Iran "is now either very near or in possession" of enough low-enriched uranium to produce one nuclear weapon and cited "new intelligence reports" which said that Iran "has deliberately stopped short of the critical last steps to make a bomb," while maintaining "possible breakout capacity."
On September 15, 2009, a report published by the hawkish Bipartisan Policy Center, signed by former Democratic Senator Chuck Robb, current Republican Senator Dan Coats, and retired General Charles Ward, stated that by the following year Iran will "be able to produce a weapon's worth of highly enriched uranium...in less than two months."
A Newsweek report from September 16, 2009, indicated that the National Intelligence Estimate stood by its 2007 assessment and that "U.S. intelligence agencies have informed policymakers at the White House and other agencies that the status of Iranian work on development and production of a nuclear bomb has not changed."
The next day, on September 17, 2009, the Associated Press revealed that, according to "a secret report" seen by the news agency, "Experts at the world's top atomic watchdog are in agreement that Tehran has the ability to make a nuclear bomb and is on the way to developing a missile system able to carry an atomic warhead." The document, supposedly the "secret annex" long suppressed by the IAEA, was "drafted by senior officials at the International Atomic Energy Agency is the clearest indication yet that the agency's leaders share Washington's views on Iran's weapon-making capabilities" and claims Iran has acquired "sufficient information" to build a nuclear bomb.
Meanwhile, a Fox News/Opinion Dynamics Poll from late September 2009 showed that 77% of Americans are "worried" that Iran is "developing a nuclear weapons program." 59% of respondents believed "the U.S. [will] eventually need to take military action to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons" and 61% supported the use of such force. A Pew Research Center survey from early October 2009 revealed that 61% of Americans believed "it is more important to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, even if it means taking military action," while both ABC News/Washington Post and CNN/Opinion Research Corporation polls taken in mid-October 2009 found that, "Based on what [they]'ve heard or read," between 87% and 88% of respondents believed Iran to be developing nuclear weapons.
At the beginning of November 2009, during a private meeting between U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, Alexander Vershbow, and a number of senior Israeli defense officials in Israel, the head of Israel's Defense Ministry Intelligence Analysis Production, Brigadier General Yossi Baidatz, "argued that it would take Iran one year to obtain a nuclear weapon and two and a half years to build an arsenal of three weapons. By 2012 Iran would be able to build one weapon within weeks and an arsenal within six months." In response to this dire assessment, American diplomats noted, "It is unclear if the Israelis firmly believe this or are using worst-case estimates to raise greater urgency from the United States."
Two weeks later, however, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu told a U.S. Congressional delegation led by Missouri Democrat Ike Skelton, who was then Chairman of the House Committee on Armed Services, that Iran already had the capacity to build a single nuclear weapon. A diplomatic cable, dispatched from the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv in December 2009 reported Netanyahu as declaring "that Iran has the capability now to make one bomb or they could wait and make several bombs in a year or two." Nevertheless, he added, "we still have a year or two to stop the Iranian program."
On December 10, 2009, Danielle Pletka of the hawkish American Enterprise Institute wrote in the Wall Street Journal about what she called "Iran's nuclear weapons programs," and warned that "the Islamic Republic getting closer and closer to enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon."
On December 14, 2009, The Times of London claimed that "confidential intelligence documents" leaked to the paper "show that Iran is working on testing a key final component of a nuclear bomb" and "describe a four-year plan to test a neutron initiator, the component of a nuclear bomb that triggers an explosion." ISIS head David Albright declared, "This is a very strong indicator of weapons work," and insisted, "Although Iran might claim that this work is for civil purposes, there is no civil application." Similarly, IISS senior fellow Mark Fitzpatrick said the supposed revelation "could be a casus belli. If Iran is working on weapons, it means there is no diplomatic solution." He added, "Is this the smoking gun? That's the question people should be asking. It looks like the smoking gun. This is smoking uranium."
The Times of London then reported on January 10, 2010 that retired Israeli brigadier-general and former director-general of Israel's Atomic Energy Commission Uzi Eilam "believes it will probably take Iran seven years to make nuclear weapons," despite the dire warnings from Major-General Amos Yadlin, head of Israeli military intelligence, who had recently told the Knesset defense committee that Iran would most likely be able to build a single nuclear device within the year.
In an interview with the U.S. military's Voice of America on January 12, 2010, the director of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, Lieutenant General Ronald Burgess, said there was no evidence that Iran has made a final decision to build nuclear weapons and confirmed that the key NIE finding that Iran has not yet committed itself to nuclear weapons was still valid. "The bottom line assessments of the NIE still hold true," he said. "We have not seen indication that the government has made the decision to move ahead with the program."
On January 25, 2010, the right-wing Zionist Israel National News (Arutz Sheva) reported, "A secret intelligence dossier currently being reviewed by US, Israeli, German, and Austrian governments reveals secret Iranian tests and hierarchies of power dedicated to the successful development of a nuclear bomb, and predicts that Iran will have a primitive nuclear bomb by year's end." INN, which is based in an illegal West Bank colony, also claimed that '[a]ccording to the classified document featured in an exposé by Germany's Der Spiegel magazine, Iran is well on its way toward obtaining its first nuclear bomb," before declaring that "two to four years after" Iran builds "a primitive nuclear weapon the size of a truck," the device "will be compressed to a size capable of fitting into a nuclear warhead and being launched at Israel."
Two days later, Barack Obama, in his first State of the Union speech on January 27, 2010 claimed that Iran was "violating international agreements in pursuit of nuclear weapons."
Speaking in Doha, Qatar on February 14, 2010, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressed, what she called, "Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons." Although Clinton said that the United States was attempting to "influence the Iranian decision regarding whether or not to pursue a nuclear weapon," she added that "the evidence is accumulating that that's exactly what they are trying to do, which is deeply concerning, because it doesn't directly threaten the United States, but it directly threatens a lot of our friends, allies, and partners here in this region and beyond."
A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll, taken at the same time as Clinton's Doha visit, revealed that 71% of Americans believed Iran already had nuclear weapons. Of those remaining respondents who didn't think Iran already possessed a nuclear bomb, over 72% thought it either "very likely" or "somewhat likely" that "Iran will have nuclear weapons in the next few years." Similarly, a Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll from late February 2010 found that 60% of voters thought that it would "take military force to stop Iran from working on nuclear weapons" and that it would be "a disaster" if "Iran gets the capability to use a nuclear weapon."
In an interview on February 26, 2010, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said of Iran's potential acquisition of a nuclear bomb, "I don’t know of any serious observer who can tell us whether it will take 2 years, 4 years, 6 years or 10. And it’s clear to me that the clock toward the collapse of this regime works much slower than the clock which ticks toward Iran becoming nuclear military power."
On the Ides of March 2010, the Telegraph (UK) reported that, in 1990, "Iran had struck an agreement with Pakistan's army chief to buy 'nuclear bombs' for $10 billion (£6.6 billion) but Pakistani officials pulled out of the offer when an Iranian delegation travelled to Islamabad to collect the material." The information supposedly came from a leaked 11-page confession by notorious Pakistani nuclear proliferator A.Q. Khan, which was made available by the AIPAC-affiliated think tank, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP). The report claims, "This is the first real indication that Iran wants - and has always wanted - a nuclear bomb, not just nuclear technology."
In advance of the publication of his book, A Time to Betray, a self-proclaimed CIA "double agent" who infiltrated Iran's Revolutionary Guards before defecting to the United States, wrote in The Christian Science Monitor on March 24, 2010, that "Iran is almost certainly developing nuclear weapons" and had previously attempted "to buy atomic bombs from Pakistan." The author, who goes by the name Reza Kahlili, wears sunglasses and a surgical mask at public appearances, and is known for making outrageous and unverifiable claims, is close to neoconservative hawks in Washington.
In an interview with Harry Smith of CBS' The Early Show broadcast on April 2, 2010, President Barack Obama claimed, "All the evidence indicates that the Iranians are trying to develop the capacity to develop nuclear weapons" and affirmed - as usual - that the United States doesn't "take any options off the table," including a military assault, when it comes to confronting Iran's nuclear program.
Appearing on Fox News on April 12, 2010, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense under Ronald Reagan turned Fox News foreign policy commentator KT McFarland suggested, "In a couple of months time - six months, nine months - we're gonna be faced with this choice: bombing Iran or letting Iran get the bomb."
At an April 14, 2010 hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Lieutenant General Burgess, stated that Iran could develop a nuclear weapon within a year and in three years build one that could be deployed, despite having judged that Iran didn't even have an active nuclear weapons program a mere four months earlier. Reuters reports that "when asked how long it would take Iran to produce enough highly enriched uranium for a single nuclear weapon if the leadership decided to do so," Burgess replied, "The general consensus -- not knowing again the exact number of centrifuges that we actually have visibility into -- is we're talking one year."
General James Cartwright, vice chairman of the U.S. military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, also spoke at the hearing and concurred with Burgess' assessment. "They have enough low enriched uranium now that, if they further processed and enriched that, that in a year...they would have enough material for one weapon," he told the committee. Cartwright continued to explain that it would still take "three to five years" for Iran to stockpile enough highly enriched uranium to create a "deliverable weapon that is usable...something that can actually create a detonation, an explosion that would be considered a nuclear weapon."
During a visit to Japan on May 12, 2010, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman described North Korea, Syria and Iran as a new "Axis of Evil," which is "building and spreading weapons of mass destruction" and poses "the biggest threat to the entire world."
On May 19, 2010, Arizona Congressman Trent Franks stated, "According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran has already manufactured enough uranium to ultimately produce at least 20 nuclear warheads." Due to his claim that "President Obama seems resigned to the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran," Franks introduced an amendment to the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act that would "require the Secretary of Defense to develop a 'National Military Strategic Plan to Counter Iran,' in order to address Iran's ongoing pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability."
David Sanger and William Broad of the New York Times reported on May 31, 2010 that "Iran has now produced a stockpile of nuclear fuel that experts say would be enough, with further enrichment, to make two nuclear weapons."
On June 11, 2010, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that "Most people believe that the Iranians could not really have any nuclear weapons for at least another year or two. I would say the intelligence estimates range from one to three years."
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill on June 24, 2010, introduced by Democratic Congressman Jim Costa of California, that "condemn[ed] the Government of Iran's continued pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability and unconventional weapons and ballistic missile capabilities."
CIA Director Leon Panetta said on June 27, 2010, Iran would need two years to prepare two tested and operational nuclear weapons. "We think they have enough low-enriched uranium for two weapons," Panetta told Jake Tapper of ABC News, continuing to explain that Iran would require one year to enrich the material to weapon-grade levels and "another year to develop the kind of weapon delivery system in order to make that viable."
On July 9, 2010, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a right-wing think tank created by senior AIPAC officials, hosted self-proclaimed spy Reza Kahlili at a luncheon. "From my sources," Kahlili said, "I have heard Iran has successfully enriched uranium over the 90-percent threshold, and that was even before they announced the 20-percent experiment. And that they have missiles that they have not publicly shown, because that would verify their intention of carrying out [sic] nuclear warheads." Kahlili also claimed Iran was planning to conduct nuclear attacks using "a thousand suitcase bombs spread around Europe and the U.S."
On July 22, 2010, nearly a third of House Republicans signed onto a resolution which stated that "Iran continues its pursuit of nuclear weapons" and "express[ed] support for the State of Israel's right to defend Israeli sovereignty, to protect the lives and safety of the Israeli people, and to use all means necessary to confront and eliminate nuclear threats posed by the Islamic Republic of Iran, including the use of military force if no other peaceful solution can be found within reasonable time to protect against such an immediate and existential threat to the State of Israel."
On August 2, 2010, Maryland Congressman Roscoe G. Bartlett, ranking member of the Air and Land Forces Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee, and EMPact America president Peter Vincent Pry wrote an op-ed in The Washington Times entitled, "What if Iran already has the bomb?" In the article, they stated, "That Iran has not conducted a nuclear test is no guarantee it does not have the bomb" and claimed, "Intelligence on Iran’s nuclear program is not good. Iran’s nuclear program is hidden from scrutiny, in secure underground facilities. Where all of these facilities are located and what they are doing is unknown." They concluded that, because "Iran only needs a single nuclear weapon to destroy the United States...[w]e had better be right that Iran does not yet have the bomb."
Speaking to British citizens at a "PM Direct" meeting on August 5, 2010, UK Prime Minster David Cameron said that "Turkey should be able to join the European Union" in part because "they can help us solve some of the world's problems...like the fact Iran has got a nuclear weapon." Cameron was roundly criticized in the British media for making such an allegation and "Downing Street quickly tried to dismiss his remark as a mistake" with "officials" clarifying the government's belief that "the Tehran regime is trying to develop a nuclear bomb but has not yet done so."
On August 19, 2010, the New York Times quoted Gary Samore, President Obama's top adviser on nuclear issues, as saying that the U.S. believes Iran has "roughly a year dash time" before it could convert nuclear material into a working weapon.
Following the release of the latest IAEA report on Iran's nuclear facilities, The Telegraph declared that Iran was "on [the] brink of [a] nuclear weapon," had "passed a crucial nuclear threshold," and "could now go on to arm an atomic missile with relative ease."
In his attention-grabbing September 2010 cover story for The Atlantic, entitled "The Point of No Return," Israeli establishment mouthpiece Jeffrey Goldberg wrote that, according to Israeli intelligence estimates, "Iran is, at most, one to three years away from having a breakout nuclear capability (often understood to be the capacity to assemble more than one missile-ready nuclear device within about three months of deciding to do so)." Goldberg also quoted an "Israeli policy maker" as claiming Iran would have a nuclear weapon "nine months from June - in other words, March of 2011."
Speaking on Fox News on September 20, 2010, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Greta Van Susteren, in response to the question "how long before Iran has nuclear weapons?" that "technically, probably, they can reach it within a year-and-a-half or two, if they decide to break all rules. Probably it might take a little bit longer." Barak also said that because he did not "believe the sanctions [on Iran] would work," he encouraged the Israeli policy "that no options should be removed from the table" with regard to stopping Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program.
On November 17, 2010, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann told the National Press Club that Iran was "a danger to every nation in the world," and that, according to what she termed "intelligence," the United States knows "that they [Iran] already have a nuclear capability."
Joint Chiefs chairman Mullen, speaking in Bahrain on December 18, 2010, said, "From my perspective I see Iran continuing on this path to develop nuclear weapons, and I believe that that development and achieving that goal would be very destabilizing to the region."
A week ago, on December 22, 2010, the great prognosticator Sarah Palin wrote in USA Today that "Iran continues to defy the international community in its drive to acquire nuclear weapons."
Just today, December 29, 2010, Reuters quotes Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon as claiming Iran would soon have a nuclear weapon. "I don't know if it will happen in 2011 or in 2012, but we are talking in terms of the next three years," he said, adding that in terms of Iran's nuclear time-line, "we cannot talk about a 'point of no return.' Iran does not currently have the ability to make a nuclear bomb on its own."
The Economist, also today, warns, not only of a looming war in the Middle East next year, but of "the apparent desire of Iran to acquire nuclear weapons at any cost."
The dire threat of imminent Iranian nukes hit the mainstream just a few months after the United States government designated the Islamic Republic of Iran a "State Sponsor of Terrorism" on January 19, 1984. Despite all of these hysterical warnings, though, no evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program has ever been revealed. The IAEA has repeatedly found, through intensive, round-the-clock monitoring and inspection of Iran's nuclear facilities - including numerous surprise visits to Iranian enrichment plants - that all of Iran's centrifuges operate under IAEA safeguards and "continue to be operated as declared."
In response to the April 1984 Jane's report suggesting an Iranian nuclear bomb was a mere two years away, the IAEA itself debunked the allegation. "Claims of an imminent Iranian nuclear bomb are without foundation," declared IAEA spokesman Georges Delcoigne, according to the Christian Science Monitor on May 9, 1984. The article also pointed out, "The Jane's article was acknowledged to contain no specific evidence as to weaponsmaking activity in Iran."
In 1991, then-Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Hans Blix, made it clear that there was "no cause for concern" regarding Iran's attempts to acquire nuclear technology.
The next year, in 1992, IAEA inspections in Iran found no evidence of illegal nuclear activity. After visiting numerous nuclear sites, chief inspector Jon Jennekens announced that "everything that we have seen is for the peaceful application of nuclear energy and ionizing radiation." He told the press, "We visited without any restriction everything we had asked to see. All nuclear activities in Iran are solely for peaceful purpose." This assessment was reaffirmed the following year.
On January 11, 1995, The Independent ran a Reuters dispatch from Vienna declaring, "The International Atomic Energy Agency said it had no evidence from its inspections that Iran was building nuclear weapons, contradicting recent US and Israeli claims that Iran could build a nuclear bomb within seven to 15 years."
On May 19, 1995, The New York Times' Elaine Sciolino reported that "inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency have never reported suspicious activity" at Iran's nuclear facilities and that there is "no evidence" that Iran has a nuclear weapons program.
Eight years later, in an IAEA report from November 2003, the agency affirmed that "to date, there is no evidence that the previously undeclared nuclear material and activities referred to above were related to a nuclear weapons programme." Furthermore, after extensive inspections of Iran's nuclear facilities, the IAEA again concluded in its November 2004 report that "all the declared nuclear material in Iran has been accounted for, and therefore such material is not diverted to prohibited activities."
On June 23, 2005, Hans Blix said on Swedish Radio that Iran still had "many years to go before they will be able to produce highly enriched uranium for a bomb and I believe there is plenty of room for negotiations."
In the November 27, 2006 issue of The New Yorker, investigative journalist Seymour Hersh wrote that "The CIA found no conclusive evidence, as yet, of a secret Iranian nuclear-weapons program running parallel to the civilian operations that Iran has declared to the International Atomic Energy Agency." Hersh also reported that the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency was challenging the CIA's conclusions and the White House believed Iran had a nuclear weapons programs based on the mere assumption that "the lack of evidence means they must have it."
A February 25, 2007 report from The Los Angeles Times revealed that, according to IAEA officials, "most U.S. intelligence shared with the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency has proved inaccurate, and none has led to significant discoveries inside Iran" and confirms that its inspectors "have found no proof that nuclear material has been diverted for use in weapons." A senior diplomat at the IAEA was quoted as saying, "Since 2002, pretty much all the intelligence that's come to us has proved to be wrong."
During a press conference in Washington D.C. on October 27, 2007, IAEA Director-General ElBaradei confirmed, "I have not received any information that there is a concrete active nuclear weapons program going on right now." He continued, "Have we seen Iran having the nuclear material that can readily be used into a weapon? No. Have we seen an active weapons program? No."
By May 2008, the IAEA still reported that it had found "no indication" that Iran has or ever did have a nuclear weapons program and affirmed, "The Agency has been able to continue to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material [to weaponization] in Iran."
In an interview with the German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung on September 25, 2008, ElBaradei said about Iran, "As long as we are monitoring their facilities, they cannot develop nuclear weapons. And they still do not have the ingredients to make a bomb overnight."
On February 22, 2009, IAEA spokesperson Melissa Fleming even issued a statement clarifying the IAEA's position regarding the flurry of deliberately misleading articles in the US and European press claiming that Iran had enriched enough uranium "to build a nuclear bomb." The statement, among other things, declared that "No nuclear material could have been removed from the [Nantanz] facility without the Agency's knowledge since the facility is subject to video surveillance and the nuclear material has been kept under seal."
This assessment was reaffirmed in September 2009, in response to various media reports over the past few years claiming that Iran's intent to build a nuclear bomb can be proven by information provided from a mysterious stolen laptop and a dubious, undated - and forged - two-page document. The IAEA stated, "With respect to a recent media report, the IAEA reiterates that it has no concrete proof that there is or has been a nuclear weapon programme in Iran."
That same month, IAEA Director-General ElBaradei stated in an interview with the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists that "the idea that we'll wake up tomorrow and Iran will have a nuclear weapon is an idea that isn't supported by the facts as we have seen them so far." With regards to the constant claim by Western powers and pundits that "Iran's nuclear program is the greatest threat to the world, ElBaradei said, "Nobody is sitting in Iran today developing nuclear weapons. Tehran doesn't have an ongoing nuclear weapons program," adding that "the threat has been hyped."
A few days later, ElBaradei countered renewed Western claims "that key information was left out of the latest IAEA report," by clearing stating at the opening of the IAEA governors' meeting in Vienna, "I am dismayed by the allegations of some member states, which have been fed to the media, that information has been withheld from the Board. These allegations are politically motivated and totally baseless." He added, "Such attempts to influence the work of the [IAEA's non-proliferation inspectorate] and undermine its independence and objectivity are in violation of...the IAEA Statute and should therefore cease forthwith."
In his Annual Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, delivered on February 2, 2010, National Intelligence director Dennis Blair stated, "We continue to assess [that] Iran is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons in part by developing various nuclear capabilities that bring it closer to being able to produce such weapons, should it choose to do so. We do not know, however, if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons."
In a Spring 2010 Unclassified Report to Congress on the Acquisition of Technology Related to Weapons of Mass Destruction, Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Analysis Peter Lavoy affirmed that "we do not know whether Iran will eventually decide to produce nuclear weapons."
Speaking with Charlie Rose in November 2010, Blair once again reiterated that "Iran hasn’t made up its mind" whether or not to pursue nuclear weaponry. On November 28, 2010, a diplomatic cable made available by Wikileaks revealed that, in December 2009, senior Israeli Defense Ministry official Amos Gilad told Undersecretary of State Ellen Tauscher that "he was not sure Tehran had decided it wants a nuclear weapon."
Back in October 2003, the San Francisco Chronicle quoted former IAEA weapons inspector David Albright as saying, with regard to new reports about a possible Iranian nuclear weapons program revealed by the MEK, "We should be very suspicious about what our leaders or the exile groups say about Iran's nuclear capacity."
Albright continued, "There is a drumbeat of allegations, but there's not a whole lot of solid information. It may be that Iran has not made the decision to build nuclear weapons. We have to be very careful not to overstate the intelligence."
It appears that nothing much has changed in the past seven years, let alone the previous three decades.
Whereas the new year will surely bring more lies and deception about Iran and its nuclear energy program, more doublespeak and duplicity regarding the threat Iran poses to the United States, to Israel and to U.S.-backed Arab dictatorships, and more warmongering and demonization from Zionist think tanks, right-wing and progressive pundits alike, the 112th Congress and the Obama administration, the truth is not on their side.
"Facts are stubborn things," John Adams said in 1770. "And whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence."
Here's hoping that over 240 years later, in 2011, the facts will begin to matter.
Happy New Year.
***** ***** *****
Just hours after this article was posted, United Press International published the findings of a new public opinion poll conducted by Angus-Reid. The poll found that 70% of respondents believe "the Government of Iran is attempting to develop nuclear weapons. Only 11 per cent of Americans do not believe that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon, while one-in-five (19%) are not sure."
January 3, 2011 - Today, the Wall Street Journal published an article entitled, "India and Iran Sanctions," the opening line of which is, "Since Iran announced its intention to build a nuclear bomb, it has had a friend in India."
Needless to say, Iran has never made such an announcement and has routinely rejected the allegations that it intends to build a nuclear weapon.
For instance, on May 3, 2010, President Ahmadinejad was interviewed by Charlie Rose and addressed head-on the allegation that Iran is developing a nuclear weapons capability. He said:
"We are opposed to the bomb, the nuclear bomb, and we will not build it. If we want to build it, we have the guts to say it. We're courageous enough to say it, because we're not afraid of anyone. If we want to have the bomb, we'll come and tell everyone he want to build it. We’re not afraid of anyone if we want to make it. Who's there to be afraid of?"Almost seven months later, Mohammad-Javad Larijani, head of Iran's Human Rights Council and chief adviser to head-of-state Ali Khamenei, also sat down with Rose for an interview. Larijani also articulated the Iranian position on nuclear weaponry, stating,
"We made our mind very, very clearly and very rigorously. We do not want armament, nuclear armament. This is definite. We made our mind, we want the most advanced nuclear technology for a lot of peaceful use."The Wall Street Journal's statement is pure propaganda.
January 7, 2011 - Outgoing Mossad chief Meir Dagan (who in 2003 said that Iran was close to the "point of no return" toward nuclear weapons capability, in 2004 said that Iran would have a nuclear weapon by 2007, and in 2009 warned of an Iranian nuclear bomb by 2014) has a brand new estimate. Ha'aretz reports that, in his final intelligence summary delivered to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Dagan declared that "Iran was a long way from being able to produce nuclear weapons" and "will not get hold of the [nuclear] bomb before 2015 approximately."
Ha'aretz intelligence and security correspondent Yossi Melman reports:
The Israeli intelligence community’s assessments of Iran’s nuclear capability have changed during Dagan's tenure. In 2003, Israeli intelligence officials thought Iran would have its first bomb by 2007. In 2007, they thought it would be 2009, and a year later they put it at 2011. Now the date has moved to 2015. These adjustments were not the result of mistaken evaluations, but due to the difficulties Iran has encountered in advancing its program, largely because of the Mossad’s efforts.Melman also points out that, under Dagan's eight year leadership, the Mossad was responsible for the assassinations of Iranian scientists.
It should be noted that, according to Reuters Dagan also said any Israeli military assault on Iranian nuclear facilities "could spur Iran to pull out of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and pursue its program entirely free of U.N. inspections." In their reporting, Reuters decided not to include the fact that an Israeli official warning about the dire consequences of non-IAEA monitored nuclear programs is ironic in the extreme, considering that Israel is not a signatory of the NPT and has an arsenal of about 400 nuclear warheads.
January 7, 2011 - Elliot Abrams, one of George W. Bush's top national security advisors and currently a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, used Meir Dagan's 2015 prediction to further fear-monger about Iran. After revisiting the myth of Khamenei's imminent death, Abrams (whose fealty to Zionism and U.S. imperialism knows no bounds) warns that the new four-year time frame provides the United States with new opportunities to impose new sanctions on Iran in order to "create additional political tension" in Iran and "stop the Iranian nuclear weapons program."
January 9, 2011 - Hillary Clinton, speaking today in Abu Dhabi, dismissed Meir Dagan's prediction (see UPDATE III above) as irrelevant, saying, "The timeline is not so important as the international effort to try to ensure that whatever the timeline, Iran is not pursuing nuclear weapons." Repeating the age-old absurdity that Iran has threatened Arab countries and Israel with military action (which it never has), Clinton continued, "I don't know that it gives much comfort to somebody who is in the Gulf, or who is in a country that Iran has vowed to destroy, that it's a one-year or a three-year timeframe."
The Reuters report stated that "Western intelligence agencies say Iran could make a bomb by the middle of the decade, should it choose to enrich uranium to higher levels and master weaponization techniques."
Translation: A country could make a nuclear bomb if it does what is necessary to make a nuclear bomb.
January 10, 2011 - Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth reported on January 9 that Netanyahu was furious at Dagan's assessment of Iran's nuclear capabilities since it undermines the aggressive Israeli and U.S. push for sanctions, regime change, and military attacks. "According to a high-ranking political official," the report said, "Netanyahu reprimanded Dagan and said that his statements had undermined Israel's efforts to fight against the Iranian nuclear program by means of the international community."
The same day, Sever Plocker, a senior editor at Yedioth, published an op-ed explaining the gravity of Dagan's prediction:
"The Iranian nuclear threat died. It keeled over. Because, if the director of the State of Israel's Mossad is prepared to risk saying that Iran won't have even a single nuclear bomb 'at least until 2015,' that means that Iran is not going to have a nuclear bomb. Period."Nevertheless, in yesterday's Washington Post, David Ignatius continues to fear-monger about Iran's nuclear program:
"U.S. officials estimate that if Iran were to try a 'break out' by enriching uranium at Natanz to the 90 percent level needed for a bomb, that move (requiring reconfiguration of the centrifuges) would be detectable - and it would take Iran one to two more years to make a bomb."So, basically, if Iran actually was trying to build a bomb, it would have to drastically reconfigure its current enrichment equipment and kick out all IAEA inspectors from its facilities, which would instantly be reported. Then, after that, it would still take another year or two to be able to have enough highly-enriched uranium for a single warhead. But, of course, this hasn't happened - Ignatius is just fantasizing about what it would be like if it did happen, which it hasn't.
Meanwhile, Fox News has taken it upon itself to claim that Dagan's assessment has single-handedly "sabotaged" the long-standing Israeli policy of warmongering about and explicitly threatening Iran with a military attack.
A senior Israeli official is quoted as lamenting, "The timing of Dagan's remarks, and the way they were said, is unacceptable. Former heads of Mossad did not behave that way on the day of their departure."
January 10, 2011 - Clinton has once again chimed in from Abu Dhabi, advancing the claim that the successful implementation of sanctions "have made it much more difficult for Iran to pursue its nuclear ambition." Although Clinton also credited technical and technological problems with supposedly slowing down Iran's "timetable," she continued, "But the real question is how do we convince Iran that pursuing nuclear weapons will not make it safer and stronger but just the opposite...We have time, but not a lot of time."
In order to be sufficiently ridiculous, Clinton also blamed Iran for both warmongering in the Middle East and opposing the so-called Israeli-Palestinian "peace process."
Clinton's focus on sanctions should be viewed within the context of the latest Iranian airplane crash that occurred yesterday, killing at least 77 people. The Washington Post points out today that "U.S. sanctions prevent Iran from updating its 30-year-old American aircraft and make it difficult to get European spare parts or planes as well. The country has come to rely on Russian aircraft, many of them Soviet-era planes that are harder to get parts for since the Soviet Union's fall."
As LobeLog analyst Ali Gharib points out:
"State Department spokesperson P.J. Crowley basically admitted last fall that a shift had occurred wherein U.S. sanctions were no longer seeking to assiduously focus pressure on certain figures associated with Iran’s leadership. In other words, innocent Iranians — 'Jamshid Averages' — were now on the hook for the behavior of their government.Speaking in Abu Dhabi, Clinton expressed her confidence that existing sanctions on Iran "have had a very significant impact."
One may wonder whether this plane full of Iranians was dangling precariously from that hook before it broke in mid-air and fell to the ground."
Without a doubt, the mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, brothers, sisters, children, families, and friends of those Iranians killed in yesterday's plane crash would agree.
Regarding Dagan's 2015 prediction, by far the best thing Clinton said was this:
"We don't want anyone to be misled by anyone's intelligence analysis."Indeed, what a shame that would be.
January 11, 2011 - In an interview with IAEA chief Yukiya Amano, published today in Der Spiegel, reporter Dieter Bednarz states, "According to the most recent estimates, Iran is only a year away from building a bomb." Amano responds, "I'm not so sure about that. Despite all unanswered questions, we cannot say that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons program" and also confirms that all enrichment facilities are "completely subject to our monitoring."
It is worth pointing out that Amano, after his July 2009 election as new IAEA head, told reporters that had not seen "any evidence in IAEA official documents" regarding an Iranian nuclear weapons program.
It appears nothing has changed.
Meanwhile, Jeffrey Goldberg wrote yesterday that Obama's stance on Iran, along with the sabotage, subterfuge, and murder conducted by Western and Israeli operatives, has helped slow its drive for nuclear weapons. In his totally bizarre, fact-impaired, and disingenuous post, Goldberg dismisses the findings (and, presumably, the subsequent affirmations) of the 2007 NIE report. He writes, "It is important to remember that Iranian intentions are unchanged, until proven otherwise," apparently believing that there has at some point been evidence of Iran's determination to build a nuclear bomb. In fact, there has been none.
So again, as Goldberg himself notes, "It is important to remember that Iranian intentions are unchanged, until proven otherwise."
January 11, 2011 - Today, Ha'aretz reports: "Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Tuesday that Iran would not stop its nuclear program unless economic sanctions were backed with a 'credible military option.'" Netanyahu continued to claim that Iran's goal is to build nuclear weapons and would stop only "if they thought they were facing a credible military option at the end of the tunnel."
Netanyahu dismissed Meir Dagan's latest prediction about Iran's nuclear program by saying, "I think that intelligence estimates are exactly that, they are estimates. They range from best case to worst case possibilities...so I think there is room for some differing assessments." He then insisted that Iran is "determined to move ahead despite every difficulty, every obstacle, every setback, to create nuclear weapons."
January 12, 2011 - Writing today in the Japan Times, former U.S. diplomat Christopher R. Hill encouraged diplomacy, along with increased sanctions, between the U.S. and Iran over Iran's nuclear program. Hill (whose government service includes stints as a former U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asia, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, South Korea, Macedonia, and Poland, U.S. special envoy for Kosovo, a negotiator of the Dayton Peace Accords, and chief U.S. negotiator with North Korea from 2005 to 2009) also repeated the claim that Iran is developing nuclear weaponry, without citing a single shred of evidence.
After bizarrely stating that there was "no apparent purpose" to the Iranian takeover of the U.S. embassy in Tehran and subsequent hostage-holding (does Hill really not know that Iranians were asking for the Carter administration not to allow the deposed tyrant of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, to find refuge in the United States?), he mentioned "the diplomatic impasse on nuclear weapons," and stated,
"Iran, after all, is not building an Islamic bomb. It is building an Iranian bomb, or, worse yet, a Shiite bomb that Arab leaders must be more resolute in trying to stop."The Iranian nuclear program was also addressed by Reuters many times today. In addition to describing the internal machinations of Israeli policy, both political and military, regarding an attack on Iran, Reuters reported that "U.S. intelligence agencies believe Iranian leaders have not yet decided to build a nuclear bomb, and some officials say recent problems affecting Tehran's nuclear equipment and personnel have set back Iran's nuclear program by two years or more."
Former CIA director General Michael Hayden is quoted as saying, "We've got more time than we thought," and continued to state his belief that the "key decision point" for any potential military strike against Iranian facilities had been postponed until after the 2012 presidential election.
Reuters also quotes "a current U.S. official" familiar with the Iran issue as saying, "The intelligence folks think that the Iranians aren't necessarily moving full steam ahead with the development of a nuclear weapon, but that there's fairly robust debate inside the Iranian regime on whether to go forward." He added:
"Even if (the Iranians) choose to do the wrong thing and proceed toward nuclear weapons, it's unclear that they could do so quickly. While they've got a lot of knowledge, putting it into practice is a whole different ball game."The report states, "The 2007 National Intelligence Estimate suggested it was conceivable Iran might be able to produce enough bomb-grade uranium to build a weapon at the earliest in 2010. But U.S. agencies believed the Iranians' ability to achieve this was more likely after 2015," adding that "Some Israeli intelligence experts strongly disagreed, suggesting publicly following the report's release that Iran might be able to build a bomb within months rather than years."
The Reuters piece concludes with this sinister warning:
"David Albright, a former United Nations weapons inspector who heads the Institute for Science and International Security, a Washington think tank, told Reuters that his own analysis still indicated Iran's nuclear research could reach a breakout point for bomb building in a year or two.Published concurrently with the above report, Reuters presented a "a timeline on Iran's nuclear program since the last talks in Geneva in 2009 between Tehran and the six powers seeking to ensure Tehran does not develop an atomic bomb."
"Albright said he did not understand why Israelis like Dagan were so confident Iran will remain incapable of putting together a bomb any earlier than 2015."
The timeline includes a number of repeated falsehoods regarding the Iranian nuclear program, erroneous assumptions about its legal obligations to the IAEA, and outright lies regarding the conclusions of recent IAEA reports and the legitimacy of UN Security Council resolutions.
The most glaring fabrication is the statement that, on February 18, 2010, "an IAEA report suggest[ed], bluntly and for the first time, that Iran is actively pursuing nuclear weapons capability." This simply isn't true. The IAEA report referred to simply rehashes the same tired old accusations that Iran hasn't fully answered IAEA inquiries regarding forged documents the IAEA received from Mossad-linked agents of exile terrorist group, the MEK. The report states that the IAEA seeks to gain "confidence in the absence of possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear programme," but never alleges that military dimensions actually exist, only that certain information given to the Agency by outside sources claim they exist.
As a result, these uncorroborated and unsubstantiated documents raise "concerns about the possible existence in Iran of past or current undisclosed activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile."
Reuters doesn't point out that, in October 2009, IAEA chief Mohammad ElBaradei addressed these "alleged studies" and supposed nuclear weapon plans this way:
"I have been making it very clear that with regard to these alleged studies, we have not seen any use of nuclear material, we have not received any information that Iran has manufactured any part of a nuclear weapon or component. That's why I say, to present the Iran threat as imminent is hype."ElBaradei continued to explain that "The IAEA is not making any judgment at all whether Iran even had weaponisation studies before because there is a major question of authenticity of the documents."
Furthermore, Iran has not even been allowed to see the original documents alleging weaponization plans in order to fully confirm or deny their authenticity. Nevertheless, the February 2010 IAEA report states that "Since August 2008, Iran has declined to discuss the above issues with the Agency or to provide any further information and access (to locations and/or people) to address these concerns, asserting that the allegations relating to possible military dimensions to its nuclear programme are baseless and that the information to which the Agency is referring is based on forgeries."
This is a disingenuous claim. Again, Iran hasn't even been given access to the documents in order to address them.
Despite all of this hype, the February IAEA report concludes that "the Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran." While the report also states that "Iran has not provided the necessary cooperation to permit the Agency to confirm that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities," Reuters fails to explain that only by implementing the IAEA's Additional Protocols (which it did voluntarily for over two years) could Iran get this confirmation. But Iran is not alone (as news reports would have you believe). Iran, along with 72 other countries, has a comprehensive safeguards agreement in force with the IAEA, but has not implemented the Additional Protocols suggested by the IAEA. The IAEA, in its Safeguards Statement for 2009 confirmed that "for these States, the Secretariat found no indication of the diversion of declared nuclear material from peaceful nuclear activities. On this basis, the Secretariat concluded that, for these States, declared nuclear material remained in peaceful activities."
Still, the recent words of current IAEA chief Yukiya Amano should be remembered:
"Despite all unanswered questions, we cannot say that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons programme."The claim that "Iran is actively pursuing nuclear weapons capability" is a fabrication, found absolutely nowhere in any IAEA report at any time. Simply, Reuters is lying.
UPDATE XI: For What It's "Worth"
Everybody look what's going down
- Stephen Stills
January 13, 2011 - Larry Derfner of the Jerusalem Post has finally weighed in regarding outgoing Mossad head Meir Dagan's prediction that, were Iran to actually have a nuclear weapons program and was actually trying to build a nuclear bomb (a claim with no basis in fact and without any evidence), the Islamic Republic would not even be able to have a working atomic weapon until 2015, at the absolute earliest.
Derfner, who calls himself part of the dovish "containment" camp, states bluntly his belief that "Iran is almost certain to get nuclear weapons," though he tempers this assumption with his opinion that "while that's not good at all, neither is it the catastrophe that the hawks foresee, because Iran will be deterred from using those nukes by the vastly superior ones held by Israel, the US and the other nuclear powers." He continues, "And since a nuclear Iran would not be a catastrophe, it would be preferable to our starting a war, which would be a catastrophe, and would just delay Iran’s nuclear project anyway, not end it."
Nevertheless, the article states that Dagan's assessment presents an even more positive outlook for Israel-first-and-onlyers like Derfner, claiming that, based on Dagan's conclusion, "sanctions work, sabotage and assassination work; the proof is that Iran's nuclear project has been going backward."
Just in case, lest anyone accidentally believe Derfner actually has a heart or any moral compass whatsoever, he then burnishes his Zionist, nationalist, exclusivist, ethnosupremacist, and survivalist credentials by declaring:
"Myself, I don't like starting fights, I don't like having scientists killed, even Iranian nuclear scientists. I don't like giving anybody a score to settle against my side. But coming back to the idea that a nuclear Iran, while not a catastrophe, would not be a good thing, would instead be a really bad, dangerous thing, then I have to say that although blowing up some Iranian facilities and killing a few Iranian scientists were risky acts of aggression, they were worth it. They contributed to the hobbling of Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons, pushed its goal off by at least several years, so these acts of sabotage and assassination were justified.They were worth it, he writes, blatantly recalling the despicable words of Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. In 1996, Leslie Stahl of 60 Minutes interviewed Albright about the tragic and genocidal effects of brutal economic U.S. sanctions against Iraq. Stahl asked, "We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?" Nonplussed, Albright immediately replied, "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price, we think the price is worth it."
"And they still are."
International law? Unimportant. The right to live without being murdered? Overrated, at least when it comes to Muslims, Arabs, or Iranians. Pretending Middle Eastern countries that challenge Israeli hegemony are acquiring nuclear weapons, despite the findings of the IAEA and all available evidence? Priceless.
Blithely justifying the murder of millions of innocent children or the assassinations of scientists and academics?
January 13, 2011 - Last evening, The Washington Post published an editorial which praised the covert sabotage, economic sanctions, and targeted assassinations ascribed to slowing down the Iranian nuclear program. The piece states, "Experts believe it would take a year to manufacture bomb-grade material with the current machines, which means the effort - if conducted in known facilities - would probably be detected with plenty of time for Western nations to react."
The Post also advocates stepped-up efforts at regime change and claims "the challenge for the Obama administration, Israel and other allies will be to make use of that window to force a definitive end to the Iranian bomb program," concluding that - even with Meir Dagan's recent prediction - "five years is certainly not much time."
The Washington Post editorial board - in its giddy effort to keep typing the word "bomb" - did not feel the need to cite even a single piece of evidence demonstrating that Iran's nuclear program is anything but peaceful and wholly monitored by the IAEA. Then again, why let pesky facts get in the way of good ol' propaganda?
January 13, 2011 - Ha'aretz intelligence correspondent Yossi Melman again addressed Meir Dagan's Iran assessment and his suggestion that Israel "should use military force only if it is attacked, or if it has 'a sword at its neck.'"
While Melman stresses that Dagan's remarks contradict the explicit fear-mongering of Netanyahu, who - Melman writes - "wants to create the impression that if Iran doesn't halt its efforts to attain nuclear weapons, there will be no way to avoid the use of military force against it," the most interesting quote of the article comes from "a liaison officer with the Mossad of a large Western intelligence organization" who spoke with Melman on the condition of anonymity. The officer wished Dagan had kept his mouth shut, rather than voicing a prediction that "harmed the international effort to persuade Iran's leaders that if they do not voluntarily suspend their uranium enrichment, Israel will attack it."
The officer's choice of words is important: persuade Iranian authorities to voluntarily suspend their uranium enrichment. The officer - by accidentally letting the truth slip out - has laid bare the absurdity of the Western position regarding the Iranian nuclear program. He has stated, quite plainly, that Iran is not legally bound whatsoever to halt its civilian nuclear program, but rather must choose to do so voluntarily. This is a choice the Iranian government has to make (and, in fact, has done so temporarily in the past), not an official mandate demanded by any legal authority. In reality, the legality and legitimacy of Iran's nuclear program is quite clear and all efforts to force its suspension are themselves illegal.
Also, by trying to persuade Iran to relinquish its "inalienable right" to "develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination," by threatening an Israeli strike - or as Netanyahu puts it, a "credible military option" - the "international effort" of Western states is actually a gross violation of Article 2.4 of the United Nations Charter which prohibits even the "threat" of force against any other state.
So, thanks for clarifying that, unnamed Mossad liaison, it's a shame no one will take notice.
January 16, 2011 - The Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten, which claims it has access to all 251,287 diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks (of which only 2,444 have yet been released), reports that "Iran has been developing contacts in more than 30 countries to acquire technology, equipment and raw materials needed to build a nuclear bomb" and that "more than 350 Iranian companies and organizations were involved in the pursuit of nuclear and missile technology between 2006 and 2010," according to Reuters.
"For years, Iran has been working systematically to acquire the parts, equipment and technology needed for developing such weapons, in violation of U.N. sanctions against the country's nuclear and missile program," Aftenposten said. The report also cited sources claiming that Iran is desperately trying to develop nuclear weapons before sanctions cripples its economy. "A race exists between the bomb and financial collapse," a French nuclear expert was quoted as saying in the Aftenposten report.
And, oh yeah, Israel and the U.S. were clearly responsible for the Stuxnet computer virus that sabotaged some of Iran's nuclear facilities last year. No surprise there, but it sure goes to show how disingenuous any single offer by the United States for dialogue and negotiations with Iran actually is. Hey, while we murder your scientists, covertly sabotage your equipment, and maintain aggressive sanctions that cause your airplanes to fall out of the sky, why won't you trust us?
Also, today, in a moronic column by the Los Angeles Times' Doyle McManus, an unnamed "senior U.S. official" is quoted as saying (in response to the ever-present Meir Dagan 2015 prediction), "The good news is that we have slowed down the nuclear clock."
The article goes on to say that because "Iran is unlikely to produce nuclear weapons as quickly as was once feared," the United States "hopes" that "Iran's leaders and its people, who are bearing the brunt of economic sanctions as the price of pursuing nuclear technology," will abandon their legal rights in face of such American and Israeli aggression.
The anonymous U.S. official says, "If they think they are within grasp of a nuclear weapons capability, then their natural inclination will be to endure another couple of years of sanctions. But if they think they are still years away and are going to continue suffering economic damage, that makes it much more likely that they would decide, if only for tactical reasons, to accept some limitations on the program."
McManus makes sure to include a choice bit of fear-mongering in his column, lest his readership might not be too worried about Iran anymore. He writes that nuclear expert and ISIS head David Albright "warn[s] that the revised estimates of Tehran's capabilities are just that: estimates. There are several scenarios under which Iran could still manage to build a nuclear weapon before 2015, he said; it merely appears less likely now."
Well, in that case, it sounds like the U.S. and Israel might as well keep murdering innocent people and sabotaging a fully monitored and wholly legal nuclear energy program! I mean, it's not like those actions contravene international law, explicitly abrogate inalienable rights, or hurt anyone, right?
January 17, 2011 - Apparently, in response to the frustrated dismay of warmongering Americans and Israelis, including Hillary Clinton and Benjamin Netanyahu, Meir Dagan has sheepishly walked back his recent estimate about Iran's nuclear program. Dagan, the outgoing head of Israeli spy agency Mossad, addressed the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee today and assured the blood-thirsty audience that his prediction that Iran won't be able to have a nuclear bomb until at least 2015 does "not change the fact that Iran is working toward nuclear military capabilities and in certain scenarios can shorten the time" it takes to obtain an atomic weapon.
Translation: Whoops, I didn't mean to say that Iran isn't really a threat, because, uh, they are! THEY ARE! THEY ARE!!
January 20, 2011 - In a Ha'aretz opinion piece published today, editor Ari Shavit accuses Meir Dagan of damaging the effectiveness of Israeli warmongering about Iran by issuing his prediction that Iran won't have any nuclear weapons capability until, at earliest, 2015 and that any military attack against Iran would be a disaster. Shavit excoriates Dagan for exposing the rhetoric of the existential nuclear threat of Iran as overblown and hysterical and, as a result, undermining the cause that supposedly allows "the international community" (read: the United States, some nuclear-armed powers, and a few other European countries) to "adopt a firm approach to Iran," claiming that "major allies of Israel saw the former Mossad chief's briefing as incomprehensible and irresponsible."
Then the propaganda really begins. Shavit, citing nobody, writes,
"Iran already has enough fissionable material for one or two nuclear bombs. If the Ayatollahs resort to desperate measures and opt for high-grade uranium enrichment instead of low-grade, they can make the change in less than a year. Dagan says the Iranians don't intend to do so before 2015. But there's a difference between intention and capability. Iran might obtain a military nuclear capability within a year or two."He then explains that the past "success" of manipulating "the international community" into pressuring Iran to relinquish its inalienable rights and punishing Iran for not doing so with sanctions and isolation "stemmed in part from the feeling of urgency Israel instilled in the powers" and laments that Dagan's comments have now "blur[red] the sense of urgency."
Shavit goes on to admit that Dagan's dire warnings about the catastrophe that would result from an Israeli attack on Iran are "balanced and correct" but pouts that because "one of the main tools to put pressure on Iran was the implied threat of an Israeli military attack," which now seems "unreliable and not serious," Dagan has "weakened the leverage."
Just to be safe, Shavit makes sure to explain why Dagan's estimate makes an illegal, first-strike by Israel even more likely now than before since "they damaged the attempt to impose a diplomatic-economic siege on Iran," and apparently there's only one other conceivable option: invasion and murder.
Before wrapping up his weird study in exasperated hasbara and frantic fear-mongering, Shavit attempts to dismiss Dagan's assessment as irrelevant, comparing it to the "complacent [and] unfounded" 2007 National Intelligence Estimate which judged "with high confidence" that Iran did not currently have an active nuclear weapons program. Despite what Shavit insinuates, this report has never been retracted, corrected, or discredited. Quite the contrary, in fact, as it has since been reaffirmed twice, in 2009 and 2010.
Basically, Shavit is frustrated that Israel's lies might not work anymore. Boohoo.
January 20, 2011 - A diplomatic cable, just released by WikiLeaks and reported in The Guardian, reveals that during a meeting of international nuclear experts in Vienna in April 2009, a U.S. representative stated that "Iran had now demonstrated centrifuge operations such that it had the technical ability to produce highly enriched uranium (HEU) if it so chose." This oh-so-scary aspect of this ability, The Guardian points out, is that creating HEU is "an essential step towards building a nuclear bomb." No wonder the headline reads: "Iran has cleared major hurdle to nuclear weapons." All that's missing is for the entire article to be printed in a blood-dripping Halloween font.
The report goes on to say that "British experts predict Iran will amass a stockpile of 20 tons of low enriched uranium in the next five years" and makes sure to ratchet up the fear-mongering by adding this tidbit: This amount of LEU is "enough, if further enriched, to make 19 warheads."
Buried deep in the article is the admission that "Britain officials now say that estimate might have to be lowered," due to the setbacks suffered by the Iranian nuclear program as a result of U.S. and Israeli sabotage of its IAEA-monitored and inspected facilities.
Meanwhile, ISIS' David Albright weighed in a couple days ago with the claim that, "Iran could make enough for a bomb in little more than six months using 1,000 advanced centrifuges if it decided to divert its stock of U.N. safeguarded low enriched uranium in a dash for a weapon," but noted, "Most international analysts believe Iran has not yet made the critical decision about whether to build nuclear weapons. Yet Tehran’s actions increasingly appear to be working toward that capability."
January 20, 2011 - One more thing: can the press (and every blog and think tank everywhere) please stop using the same picture for every single article about Iran's nuclear program, sanctions, or centrifuges? I know that big metal tubes and Ahmadinejad in a lab coat and baby-blue disposable polypropylene shoe covers is such an utterly terrifying image that not to use it would seem irresponsible, but c'mon, how about something we haven't seen a million times already? (And no, a sinister looking photo of an Iranian military parade doesn't count.)
January 20, 2011 - A piece by the Jerusalem Post Editorial Board, published today, picks up where Ha'aretz's Avi Shavit left off, addresses the implications and consequences of that "recent revelations point[ing] to significant delays in Iran's nuclear program" as declared by outgoing Mossad head Meir Dagan. The editorial begrudgingly notes that , whether or not Dagan's 2015 forecast is overly optimistic, Iran's nuclear ambitions have apparently been humbled, and the time frame for a nuclear breakout has been pushed off." As such, the Board argues that, in order "to stop bold and brave Iran," efforts to sanction, sabotage, threaten, and even bomb Iran and assassinate more of its citizens should be stepped up immediately since "it would be incredibly naïve to expect a nebulous “engagement” policy to convince Iran to abandon a nuclear program" and there is "precious little to zero chance of succeeding in engagement with a regime that enjoys widespread popularity in the Muslim world specifically because of its defiance of the West."
The editorial, entitled "No Let-up on Iran," worries that Dagan's new estimate will usher in an era of "complacency," during which "the sense of urgency in thwarting the Islamic Republic might dissipate." Heaven forefend!
Naturally, The Post makes sure to assure its readers, and without citing even a cursory piece of evidence, that the evil Iranian mullahs are in "stubborn pursuit of the most destructive weapons that could lead to the deaths of millions in the Middle East – Jews, Muslims, Christians and members of other faiths alike."
And, in the end, the Board issues this ultimatum trimmed with outright lies and blatant propaganda:
"This must not be allowed to happen. Iran is bent on obtaining the bomb. That the danger may have been delayed by a year or two does not make it any less of an existential threat. The apparent achievements of sabotage, indeed, should provide new encouragement that Teheran can be thwarted. And the imperative to do so is as profound as ever."*****
January 25, 2011 - The incoming head of Israel's Military Intelligence, Brigadier-General Aviv Kochavi, told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that Iran would have a nuclear bomb within one or two years.
"The question," he said, "is not when Iran will have the bomb. The question is how long it will take for an Iranian leader to decide to have the centrifuges start enriching at 90 percent."
Continuing, he said, "Based on their infrastructure and the technical know-how and uranium they have, within a year or two after he makes that decision, they will have nuclear weapons."
Kochavi did state that, because of the current economic situation in Iran, "At this moment, it is not in Iran's interest to move their [nuclear] program forward."
Still, in order to achieve sufficient spookiness, he made clear that international sanctions have not been as effective as people like Hillary Clinton might try to believe. "The sanctions have had an impact on the Iranian economy," he said, "but they have had no impact on Iran's nuclear program."
Israeli officials, who are eager to attack Iran and were dismayed by outgoing Mossad chief Meir Dagan's recent estimate that Iran wouldn't be able to produce a nuclear weapon (if it wanted to) until at least 2015, were thrilled by Kochavi's desperate fear-mongering. As one official who attended the Knesset meeting said, "This is a new head of military intelligence, so he's making very clear what the national estimate is, despite what we heard recently from the Mossad."
And, just like that, the new scare-stimate has gone from 2015 to 2013. Excuse me while I yawn.
January 31, 2011 - British Defense Secretary Liam Fox warned the House of Commons today that Iran would have a nuclear weapon by next year.
Fox, a Conservative hawk who has repeatedly trafficked in fear-mongering about Iran and has publicly backed a potential military attack on that country, lamented that "the international community can be caught out assuming that things are more rosy than they actually are" regarding Iran's nuclear program and said, "We should therefore be very clear that it is entirely possible that Iran may be on the 2012 end of that spectrum [of acquiring a nuclear bomb] and act in accordance with that warning."
What that action might be was not explained, but was nevertheless quite clear, considering Fox's previous statements about Iran. Early last year, Fox claimed that the "single most important issue facing the West" was the threat posed by Iran and warned that, due to the development of the Islamic Republic, "the era of nuclear terrorism has arrived." Fox went on to state that the West "know[s] that Iran, more than any other country, is willing to export instability and terror as part of its foreign policy" and said that "they are embarked on a programme which the UN says can be for no other purpose than to develop a nuclear weapon capability."
In order to make sure he hit just about every single tired and overused talking point regarding the danger of Iran, Fox noted that Iran is an "existential threat" to Israel and affirmed "that nothing is off the table" with regards to the use of military force against Iran.
"Iran does not yet have nuclear weapons, as assessed," Fox admitted today before raising suspicions "of possible military dimensions" to Iran's totally legal and fully monitored nuclear energy program which has consistently been found to be in complete compliance with international inspectors and safeguards. Iran "does continue to pursue uranium enrichment and the construction of a heavy water reactor, both of which have military potential," he stated.
Responding to former Mossad chief Meir Dagan's recent assessment that Iran wouldn't be capable of having a nuclear weapon until 2015 at the earliest, Fox declared it is "wrong to insinuate that we should always look at the more optimistic end of the spectrum."
Apparently, according to Liam Fox, why should the West wait for actual evidence of anything contrary to warmongering propaganda about Iran's nuclear program and intentions when it could be bombing Iran and killing Iranians right this very moment?
February 4, 2011 - On the heels of UK Defense Secretary Liam Fox's prediction that Iran will have a nuclear weapon by 2012 comes a new report from the International Institute of Strategic Studies, a London think tank, which, according to The Daily Telegraph, claims that "a four stage manufacturing method developed by Pakistan to produce its nuclear weapons – plans for which have been sold to Tehran – would produce a nuclear weapon for Iran within a year and seven months."
The report also states that "an untried technique to manufacture highly enriched uranium in one go, known to specialists as 'batch enrichment process,' would generate enough material in under a year."
Whereas Iran could - in theory - further enrich its current stockpile of low-enriched uranium (3% LEU) to nuclear weapons-grade (90% LEU) via the Pakistan method in just over two years, utilizing the "batch" method would cut that timeline in half.
Unsurprisingly, the author of the report, Mark Fitzpatrick, is also quoted as saying he believed "beyond reasonable doubt" that Iran was pursuing a nuclear bomb. Still, there is literally no evidence that demonstrates this to be the case.
Fitzpatrick also said that, due to industrial sabotage (which is illegal under international law, mind you, though that's never talked about), Iran has not been able to develop new generations of centrifuges which would speed up the enrichment process tremendously.
The Telegraph reports, "More sophisticated machines would allow Iran to produce up to 10 times more enriched uranium and would reduce the time to construction of a bomb to four to six weeks."
February 17, 2011 - Mark Hosenball of Reuters writes today that "U.S. intelligence agencies believe Iranian leaders have resumed closed-door debates over the last four years about whether to build a nuclear bomb."
Nevertheless, a newly-released "memorandum to holders" of the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate on Iran's nuclear program and apparent ambitions assess that the Islamic Republic's leaders "have not decided about going ahead with an atomic weapon."
According to U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who testified on the intelligence report today before the Senate Intelligence Committee, "Iran is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons in part by developing various nuclear capabilities that better position it to produce such weapons, should it choose to do so."
Clapper also noted that Iran's continuing progress in nuclear research and development, specifically its ability to enrich uranium, "strengthens our assessment that Iran has the scientific, technical and industrial capacity to eventually produce nuclear weapons." What Clapper apparently omitted from his presentation is that Iran is exercising its "inalienable" right to nuclear energy - including research and development - as guaranteed by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Instead, Clapper stated, "These advancements contribute to our judgment that Iran is technically capable of producing enough highly enriched uranium for a weapon in the next few years, if it chooses to do so."
The next few years! Oh dear, better get the bombers fueled up and ready to fly! I mean, they've only been "a few years away" for three decades now. How can anyone believe this stuff anymore?
February 25, 2011 - According to Reuters, a new confidential IAEA report claims the agency "has received new information regarding allegations that Iran may be seeking to develop a nuclear-armed missile" and expressed frustration that "Iran is not engaging with the agency in substance on issues concerning the allegation that Iran is developing a nuclear payload for its missile program."
No more information was given or evidence presented. However, for good measure (and in case readers weren't sufficiently spooked by the report's allegations), Reuters made sure to add this fun fact: "Experts say that amount could be enough for two bombs if refined much further."
February 28, 2011 - Janne Kristiansen, General Director of the Norwegian Police Security Service, claimed today that "Iran has been trying without success to obtain Norwegian missile technology for possible use in delivering nuclear weapons," reports Reuters. She said Iran had long been attempted to acquire "special components that can...be used in weapons of mass destruction, for building missiles" from small Norwegian defense contractors specializing in "dual-use technology."
The report continued:
"Kristiansen said her agency discovered Iran's attempts and stepped in before sensitive technology was passed.So, not only are Iranian nuke-seekers devious and duplicitous, they're also apparently aggressive and childish. How Orientalist!
"In an assessment of Norwegian security threats that was published on Monday, her agency described 'very pushy behavior' by supposed commercial actors from Iran who would often inquire about innocuous products first.
"They would then widen their wish list to include sensitive goods 'and often make various proposals for transport and financing to circumvent Norwegian export regulations,' the agency said.
"In its written assessment the agency did not specify missile technology as Iran's target, as Kristiansen did in an interview. Nor were any companies named."
Despite these accusations, "no Norwegian firms had been prosecuted because investigators lacked proof of intent to violate export controls or United Nations sanctions banning the sale of nuclear weapons-related technology to Iran."
Furthermore, it is quite possible that the United States is behind these allegations. U.S. embassy in Norway spokesman Timothy Moore, after refusing address if the U.S. "was involved in disclosing the Iranian attempts," said that "we have known for some time that Iran has been pursuing high technology around the world and we are naturally concerned, and that's why we work closely with Norway and our other European partners."
And by "work closely," he means "tell them what to say about Iran in order to further fear-monger and justify continued sanctions."
March 7, 2011 - During his opening speech at the 35-nation IAEA board meeting in Vienna today, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said "that he cannot guarantee that Iran is not trying to develop atomic arms."
What the news agencies didn't disclose, however, is what Amano told reporters the very same day: “We are not saying that Iran has a nuclear weapons program. We have concerns and we want to clarify the matter."
Meanwhile, the Washington Times reported today that an "annual intelligence report to Congress has dropped language stating that Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions are a future option." The report, coordinated between the CIA’s Weapons, Intelligence, Nonproliferation and Arms Control Center (WINPAC) and the National Intelligence Council headed by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, dropped the previous official U.S. claims that "Iran is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons though we do not know whether Tehran eventually will decide to produce nuclear weapons” and that “Iran continues to develop a range of capabilities that could be applied to producing nuclear weapons if a decision is made to do so.”
The Times report concludes with a quote from Gary Milhollin, Director of the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, who claims, "You can’t explain the Iranian nuclear program as a civilian program.” Clearly annoyed by the utter lack of credible evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program, Milhollin declared, “Any way you look at the program, it looks like a military program, and our intelligence agencies should be willing to say so.”
These remarks echo those of supreme Congressional Zionist Howard Berman, who - despite not having even read the updated NIE memorandum which reaffirms the official U.S. position that Iran has no active nuclear weapons program - told Foreign Policy's The Cable, "For a year and a half the administration has been convinced that Iran has been pursuing a nuclear weapon. That's what they whole sanctions push is based on. There can be no serious doubt that Iran wants to have a nuclear weapons capability."
The silliness continues.
March 9, 2011 - In response to IAEA chief Amano's speech to the agency's board meeting, U.S. Ambassador to the IAEA Glyn Davies released a statement claiming that "The increasingly apparent military dimensions to Iran's nuclear program, including efforts by Iran to develop a nuclear warhead, intensify and lend urgency to [Amano's] concerns" and that "Iran continues to engage in ever-more sensitive nuclear activities in flagrant disregard of its international obligations."
Davies also told reporters, "We are conveying the view that Iran appears to be pursuing the scientific, technical and industrial capacity to produce nuclear weapons."
The very same day, Reuters reported that Robert Einhorn, the U.S. State Department's senior adviser for nonproliferation and arms control, said that, while the U.S. believes "Iran is moving to the threshold of a nuclear weapons capability" and is "clearly acquiring all the necessary elements of a nuclear weapons capability," he did not think that "Iran soon plans to attempt a nuclear 'breakout' -- abandoning its commitments under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and moving full-speed to toward atomic weapons."
While speaking at the Arms Control Association, a Washington D.C. think tank, Einhorn stated, "We don't see breakout as imminent at this stage."
March 10, 2011 - General James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, addressed the Senate Armed Services Committee today and, much to the chagrin of many a fear-mongering Senator, refused to say what Iran hawks so desperately wanted to hear. When asked which nations pose the greatest "mortal threat" to the United States, Clapper responded "Russia and China" due to their military and nuclear capabilities.
According to CBS News, committee chairman Senator Carl Levin said he was "really taken aback" by Clapper's answer, complaining, "You didn't mention Iran or North Korea, which would have been the first two countries I would have thought of in response to that question." Clapper replied that, while "Iran and North Korea are of great concern," they "do not have the capability to pose the same threat as China or Russia."
March 17, 2011 - During an interview last night with CNN's Piers Morgan, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared - as he has consistently for the past 15 years - that Iran has "enriched enough material now almost for three nuclear bombs." He immediately qualified this statement by adding, "They still have to re-enrich it again, but that is what they are doing."
After claiming that Israel's 1981 illegal bombing of Iraq's Osirak nuclear facility was "probably one of the greatest acts of nuclear non-proliferation in modern times," Netanyahu pined for a renewed threat of "credible military action" against Iran which would be "lead preferably by the United States."
When asked by the fawning Morgan what he meant by a credible military action, Netanyahu clarified: "It means action that will knock out their nuclear facility."
It should be noted (though naturally Morgan did not) that the Israeli bombing of Osirak was "strongly condemned" by the United Nations General Assembly as a "premeditated and unprecedented act of aggression in violation of the Charter of the United Nations and the norms of international conduct, which constitutes a new and dangerous escalation of the threat to international peace and security."
In fact, the Iraqi nuclear program before 1981 was peaceful and under intensive safeguards and monitoring by the IAEA. According to Harvard physics professor Richard Wilson, the Osirak reactor was "explicitly designed by the French engineer Yves Girard to be unsuitable for making bombs. That was obvious to me on my 1982 visit."
The Israeli attack, code-named Operation Opera, took the lives of ten Iraqi soldiers and one French civilian researcher and promoted the passing of UNGA resolution 36/27 on November 13, 1981 that, in addition to condemning the murderous Israeli actions, also reaffirmed Iraq's "inalienable sovereign right" to "develop technological and nuclear programmes for peaceful purposes." Further, it stated that, not only was Iraq a party to the NPT, but had also "satisfactorily applied" the IAEA safeguards required of it. Conversely, it noted "with concern" that "Israel has refused to adhere to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, and, in spite of repeated calls, including that of the Security Council, to place its nuclear facilities under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards."
In addition to condemning "the misuse by Israel, in committing its acts of aggression against Arab countries, of aircraft and weapons supplied by the United States of America," the resolution reiterated "its call to all States to cease forthwith any provision to Israel of arms and related material of all types which enable it to commit acts of aggression against other States" and requested "the Security Council to investigate Israel's nuclear activities and the collaboration of other States and parties in those activities" and "institute effective enforcement action to prevent Israel from further endangering international peace and security through its acts of aggression and continued policies of expansion, occupation and annexation."
Furthermore, the General Assembly demanded that "Israel, in view of its international responsibility for its act of aggression, pay prompt and adequate compensation for the material damage and loss of life suffered" due to the illegal and lethal attack. Naturally, Israel, to date, has never complied with any of these demands, nor have any of their international arms suppliers.
Beyond this, the Osirak attack is credited not with halting an Iraqi nuclear weapons program, but for creating it in the first place.
It's clear (and totally unsurprising) that Netanyahu, through his continued lies about Iran and repeated war-mongering, is intent on committing further illegal acts of aggression. After all, as he himself told Morgan, it's what he's "been trying to do - for a long time - for about 15 years."
April 8, 2011 - A short, silly Associated Press report featured in Ha'aretz today claims, "An exiled Iranian opposition group says its spies have found a major parts factory for Iran's uranium enrichment machines, a critical part of Tehran's secretive nuclear program."
Naturally, the group in question is the Islamist/Marxist terrorist cult Mojahadeen-e Khalq, or MEK, which claims to have discovered Iran's clandestine nuclear weapons program years ago (yes, the weapons program that still doesn't exist and no, the MEK didn't "discover" it). The MEK are the darlings of the rabid Bomb Iran crowd, which is trying desperately to have them removed from the U.S. State Department list of Terrorist Organizations.
The report states:
"The Mujahedin-e Khalq said yesterday that over the past four and a half years Iran's Defense Ministry has secretly used a factory west of Tehran to produce parts for tens of thousands of enrichment centrifuges. These machines can make low-enriched uranium fuel for nuclear power plants or highly-enriched uranium for nuclear weapons.Wait, the MEK "offered no hard evidence"?! Shocking!
"Iran says it is building a civilian nuclear power program, but the U.S.believes it is seeking the capacity to build nuclear bombs. The exiled group has exposed several key nuclear facilities in Iran since 2002, but spokesman Alireza Jafarzadeh offered no hard evidence yesterday that what the group calls the TABA facility makes centrifuge parts."
Also, let's not forget that even IAEA officials have admitted that the overwhelming majority of information gathered on the Iranian nuclear program by ;U.S. intelligence sources (and usually laundered through the MEK and Mossad) has "has proved inaccurate, and none has led to significant discoveries inside Iran."
The Los Angeles Times reported in 2007 that, of all the intelligence provided to the IAEA by the U.S. since 2002, "none of the tips about supposed secret weapons sites provided clear evidence that the Islamic republic is developing illicit weapons." As one senior IAEA diplomat put it, "Since 2002, pretty much all the intelligence that's come to us has proved to be wrong."
Additionally, "U.S. officials privately acknowledge that much of their evidence on Iran's nuclear plans and programs remains ambiguous, fragmented and difficult to prove."
April 10, 2011 - Thousands of diplomatic cables issued by the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv and obtained last year by WikiLeaks are finally being published exclusively by the Israeli daily Ha'aretz.
A newly-released cable describes a January 2006 meeting between U.S. Congressman Gary Ackerman and Dr. Ariel Levite, then deputy chief of Israel's Atomic Energy Commission. During their conversation, according to the Ha'aretz summary of the cable, Levite claimed that "Iran could obtain nuclear weapons within two to three years, but admitted the estimate could be inaccurate as 'Israel does not have a clear or precise understanding of Iran's clandestine program.'"
Another reason why these Israeli assessments might have been mistaken is because the IAEA Director General Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei had already affirmed that "Iran has facilitated Agency access under its safeguards agreement and additional protocol to nuclear material and facilities, and has also provided access to other locations in the country, including a transparency visit to a military site." ElBaradei also stated that the IAEA had "continued to implement the measures of the additional protocol by reviewing declarations made by Iran and conducting complementary access and other verification activities" and had "continued its verification of Iran´s voluntary suspension of enrichment and reprocessing related activities."
The very same month Levite made his claims to the U.S. delegation in Tel Aviv, the IAEA "continued to verify and monitor all elements of Iran's voluntary suspension of enrichment related and reprocessing activities," as well as continuing "to monitor the ongoing civil engineering construction of the Iran Nuclear Research Reactor (IR-40) at Arak" through the use of "satellite imagery."
Furthermore, the leaked cable reported that, in addition to Levite boasting that "Israel knows that Iran has acquired cruise missiles from Ukraine," he also noted, without presenting a shred of evidence, rumors alleging that Iran has already obtained "some warheads from Ukraine."
Also revealed in the cable - perhaps most importantly - is Levite's admission "that most Israeli officials do not believe a military solution is possible" with regard to Iran's nuclear program due to the fact that Iran's nuclear facilities are widely dispersed throughout the country (a lesson Levite says Iran learned after the illegal 1981 Israeli bombing of Iraq's Osirak reactor). An Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities would also be ineffective, as "some elements [of the nuclear program] are in places that Israel does not know about," Levite said.
So, not only would Iran have nukes in "two to three years," according to an Israeli government official and nuclear expert, but it may have already gotten them on the black market. And Israel doesn't know much about the Iranian program, except that it's "clandestine." Oh, and Israel was threatening an attack which it had already ruled out. That was 2005.
The lies are just as silly now as they were then.
April 12, 2011 - Joby Warrick reports today in the Washington Post that "Iran is proclaiming significant gains in its nuclear program, progress that Western officials and experts say could effectively erase setbacks from recent cyber attacks and shorten the timeline for acquiring nuclear weapons."
In recent days, Iranian nuclear scientists have announced that "they have successfully tested advanced centrifuges for enriching uranium and are less than a month away from starting the country's first commercial nuclear reactor."
Warrick writes that, even though many of these technological advancements have yet to be implemented, "the apparent progress has prompted some experts to redraw their forecasts for how quickly the country could build an atomic arsenal if it chose to do so."
The article also notes the warnings of former IAEA nuclear safeguards chief and perennial Iran hysteric Olli Heinonen, who says that, if Iran gets new enrichment centrifuges up and running, "performing well, and in large numbers, it will make a big difference." Heinonen claims that "in theory," with "a few hundred of the new machines," Iran might be able to "produce enough enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon in less than a year."
That's quite a theory.
Furthermore, Warrick reports, "Neither the United States nor the IAEA have published performance estimates for Iran's next-generation centrifuges, but a U.S. intelligence official knowledgeable about Iran's nuclear program did not dispute Heinonen's observations."
"U.S. intelligence officials share the IAEA's concern" about Iran's nuclear program, says some anonymous government official.
For good fear-mongering measure, the Post piece claims that "Iran, which began enriching uranium on an industrial scale in 2007, is now thought to possess enough low-enriched fuel to make at least two bombs if the material were processed further."
UPDATE XXXIII: Israeli Fear-Mongering about Iran Faces a Barak-lash
May 4, 2011 - Sometimes Ehud Barak has trouble staying on message. Last year in Herzliya, he warned of Israel becoming an apartheid state like South Africa, a usually verboten analogy among Zionist officials, unless a viable Palestinian state is created soon. "As long as in this territory west of the Jordan river there is only one political entity called Israel it is going to be either non-Jewish, or non-democratic," Barak said. "If this bloc of millions of Palestinians cannot vote, that will be an apartheid state." Whoops.
This time around, however, Barak pulled the rug out from under Israel's favorite scare tactic. The former Israeli Prime Minister/current Minister of Defense/Deputy Prime Minister told Ha'aretz today that even "[i]f Iran succeeds in developing nuclear weapons, it is unlikely to bomb Israel," thereby undermining one of the Netanyahu administration's main propaganda lines that a nuclear-armed Iran (if one ever were to exist) would represent an immediate "existential threat" to the self-proclaimed Jewish state.
According to Ha'aretz, Barak voiced his opinion that "Israel should not spread public panic about the Iranian nuclear program and responded to a question about whether he thought Iran would launch a nuclear attack on Israel by saying, "Not on us and not on any other neighbor."
Just a few days ago, on May 1, both Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Israeli President Shimon Peres repeated their dire warnings and tired talking points about the supposed Iranian threat. Speaking at the opening ceremony of Holocaust Memorial Day at Yad Vashem, Israel's memorial to Jewish victims of Nazi genocide, Netanyahu and Peres both "stressed Iranian nuclear aspirations as an existential threat to Israel," with Netanyahu declaring that "Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas are working openly for the destruction of our people." He continued, "We cannot place our fate in the hands of others," and then warned that, "when Israel and the Israel Defense Forces say, 'Never Again,' they mean precisely that." Going for broke, Netanyahu just started making things up. "[T]oday, new enemies are rising, and as they deny the Holocaust, call for the destruction of our people," he said, "those wishing to destroy the Jewish state" are "arming themselves with nuclear weapons in order to realize those ambitions." Naturally, he threw in the "existential threat" canard: "The threat to our existence isn't a theoretical one, it cannot be minimized, it stands before us, before all of humanity, and it must be stopped," he bellowed.
Peres went even further, stating, "Iran's fanatic leadership is a danger to the entire world. It is not only a threat to Israel. It is a threat to any household, anywhere. It is a real risk to the fate of humanity."
Drawing a bogus parallel from Nazi intentions to Iranian ones has long been a mainstay of Israeli fear-mongering despite its obvious absurdity.
Meanwhile, during his Ha'aretz interview, Barak explained, "I don’t think in terms of panic," continuing,
"What about Pakistan, some political meltdown happens there and four bombs wind up in Iran. So what? So you head for the airport? You close down the country? Just because they got a shortcut? No. We are still the most powerful in the Middle East."This is not the first time Barak has made such comments. In April 2010, Barak told Israel Radio, "Right now, Iran does not pose an existential threat to Israel. If Iran becomes nuclear, it will spark an arms race in the Middle East. This region is very sensitive because of the oil flow; the region is important to the entire world. The fact that Iran is not an immediate threat, but could evolve into one, means that we can't let ourselves fall asleep."
The previous month, Barak told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that "Iran does not pose an existential threat to Israel at this time." Barak then elaborated that "Iran has the potential to develop into an existential threat on Israel, and we are working to prevent that."
A month before that, Barak, while speaking at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) in February 2010, said plainly, "I don’t think that the Iranians, even if they got the bomb, they are going to drop it immediately on some neighbor. They fully understand what might follow. They are radicals but not total meshuganas." He continued to explain his belief that the Iranian leaders "have quite sophisticated decision-making process and they understand realities."
In September 2009, Barak, who was then the head of the Labor party, told Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth that "Iran does not constitute an existential threat against Israel." Later in the interview, he repeated this assessment, saying, "I am not among those who believe Iran is an existential issue for Israel," continuing, "Israel is strong, I don't see anyone who could pose an existential threat." Barak also stated, "Right now, Iran does not have a bomb. Even if it did, this would not make it a threat to Israel's existence. Israel can lay waste to Iran." In a direct rebuke of the oft-heard Netanyahu refrain, Barak said plainly, "I don’t think we are on the brink of a new Holocaust."
Still, in his remarks to Ha'aretz today, Barak made sure to tread familiar fear-mongering ground by stating his belief that the Iranian leadership could not necessarily be trusted not to do something crazy (they are bearded Muslims after all).
"I don’t think that anyone can say responsibly that these ayatollahs, if they have nuclear weapons, are something you can rely on, like the Politburo or the Pentagon,” Barak said. "It’s not the same thing. I don’t think they will do anything so long as they are in complete control of their senses, but to say that somebody really knows and understands what will happen with such a leadership sitting in a bunker in Tehran and thinking that it’s going to fall in a few days and it is capable of doing it? I don’t know what it would do."
Clearly, according to Barak, only governments run by Western white people are mature and rational enough to have nuclear weapons. Also, the idea of the Iranian leadership "sitting in bunker in Tehran" is ridiculous enough without Barak's wishful thinking about the potential collapse of the Islamic Republic thrown in (though it is clear that the deliberate inference is to make a mental connection with the Führerbunker beneath Hitler's New Reich Chancellery in Berlin). Additionally, the idea of the Iranian leadership detonating a nuclear weapon (that they don't even have) in order to fend off regime change in a blaze of radioactive glory is complete nonsense. “I think we are seeing the beginning of the end of the dictatorships in the Arab world, including the Iranian one,” he said, demonstrating his apparent misunderstanding of how the Iranian governmental system actually works.
Beyond that, there is ample evidence that Iran, which maintains a strict "no first strike" policy, is not prone to act rashly with regard to military aggression, especially against countries with superior capabilities and nuclear arsenals. Efrahim Halevi, former Mossad head, revealed his calculation of the Iranian leadership to Trita Parsi in 2006, saying, "I don't think they are irrational, I think they are very rational. To label them as irrational is escaping from reality, and it gives you kind of an escape clause." In October 2008, Congressional foreign policy advisor Gregory Aftandilian, speaking at a Center for National Policy event titled “A Nuclear Middle East,” noted that Iran is "not stupid" and "has a long history, thousands of years, of statecraft," concluding simply, "Tehran is not suicidal."
In May 2010, former Israeli generals and diplomats conducted a series of "war games" designed to anticipate what might happen were Iran to obtain a nuclear arsenal. Reuters reported:
Aharon Zeevi-Farkash, a retired Israeli intelligence chief acting as Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, insisted Iran would regard its bomb as a means of "self-defense and strategic balance" -- an allusion to Israel's own, assumed atomic arsenal.In a reasonable and realistic critique of Jeffrey Goldberg's Israeli propaganda puff piece, Steve Clemons of the New America Foundation wrote last year, "Iran has shown itself to be a strategic, rational, albeit ruthless, calculator of its interests -- not an irrational, suicidal nation." Center for American Progress reporter Matt Duss and national security analyst Andrew Grotto also agree that Iran is neither a "suicide nation" nor a "martyr state."
Speaking with Charlie Rose in November 2010, former United States Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair maintained that "Iran hasn’t made up its mind" to acquire nuclear weapons, continuing,
"But I'm telling you, I think they will pull back, add up all of the different factors. Iran has made rational decisions in terms of pros and cons and pluses and minuses in the long run."The following month, Mohammad-Javad Larijani, head of Iran's Human Rights Council and adviser to the Supreme Leader Khamenei, also assured Rose of his country's anti-nuclear weapons policy, saying, "We made our mind very, very clearly and very rigorously. We do not want armament, nuclear armament. This is definite. We made our mind, we want the most advanced nuclear technology for a lot of peaceful use."
Late last year, a diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks revealed that Australia's top intelligence agency, the Office of National Assessments (ONA) viewed "Tehran as a sophisticated diplomatic player" which was not "liable to behave impulsively or irrationally." A report in the Sydney Morning Herald quoted ONA chief Peter Varghese as saying, "It's a mistake to think of Iran as a 'rogue state'.''
Iranian government and military officials have long stated that they will act militarily in self-defense only if their country is attacked, never preemptively or preventatively, and have never issued threats about initiating aggression against another nation.
Despite the hysterical (and strikingly racist and Islamophobic) claims of opportunistic serial liars like Goldberg (who has warned of Iran's "theologically driven, eliminationist anti-Semitism"), Netanyahu (who accused Iran's leaders of belonging to a "messianic apocalyptic cult") and Alan Dershowitz (who claimed Iran had "demonstrated a willingness to sacrifice millions of their own people to an apocalyptic mission of destruction"), even the United States government concurs with assessments that Iran is a rational actor on the world stage, concerned only with national self-defense rather than aggressive military offensives.
In April 2010, in a statement before the United States Senate Committee on Armed Services, Defense Intelligence Agency director Lieutenant General Ronald L. Burgess stated, "Iran's military strategy is designed to defend against external threats, particularly from the United States and Israel. Its principles of military strategy include deterrence, asymmetrical retaliation, and attrition warfare." He added that Iran is "unlikely to initiate a conflict intentionally or launch a pre-emptive attack." The intelligence report delivered to Congress that day in conjunction with Burgess' testimony also revealed the assessment that Iran maintains a "defensive military doctrine, which is designed to slow an invasion and force a diplomatic solution to hostilities," and followed that "Iranian military training and public statements echo this defensive doctrine of delay and attrition." This identical position, which has been the consensus view of U.S. intelligence for years, was reaffirmed this past March in Burgess' 2011 testimony before the Armed Services Committee.
A month earlier, in his "Statement for the Record on the Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence," Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper declared that the official judgment of all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies is that "Iran's nuclear decisionmaking is guided by a cost-benefit approach, which offers the international community opportunities to influence Tehran. Iranian leaders undoubtedly consider Iran‟s security, prestige and influence, as well as the international political and security environment, when making decisions about its nuclear program."
So, will Barak's candor temper Netanyahu's rabid bellicosity in days to come? Unlikely. But are his comments a welcome break from the constant Chicken Littlesque doomsday hysteria that seems to define Israeli hasbara? Yes, they are. As such, get ready to see a whole new level of fear-mongering trotted out by both Israel and the U.S. in the near future in order to wash away the frustrating and inconvenient truths spoken by Barak today.
May 8, 2011 - It's been a bad week for Iran hawks. Not only has Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak repeated his long-held assessment that a theoretical nuclear-armed Iran would not pose an imminent or existential threat to Israel, but former Mossad chief Meir Dagan, recent scourge of the 'Bomb Iran' crowd, has again made things even more difficult.
Speaking at a senior faculty conference at Hebrew University in Jerusalem on Friday - his first public appearance since leaving the Israeli spy agency - Dagan called the possibility of an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities "the stupidest thing I have ever heard."
Dagan said that Iran has a clandestine nuclear infrastructure which functions alongside its legitimate, civil infrastructure. It is the legitimate infrastructure, he said, that is under international supervision by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Any strike on this legitimate infrastructure would be "patently illegal under international law," according to Dagan.Dagan also claimed, according to Ha'aretz, that "there is proof that Iran has the capability to divert its nuclear activities from place to place in order to take them out of the watchful eye of international supervision and intelligence agencies."
Dagan emphasized that attacking Iran would be different than Israel's successful air strike on Iraq's nuclear reactor in 1981. Iran has scattered its nuclear facilities in different places around the country, he said, which would make it difficult for Israel to launch an effective attack.
When the consequences of an Israeli air strike were brought up, Dagan stated, "It will be followed by a war with Iran. It is the kind of thing where we know how it starts, but not how it will end."
Furthermore, in an interview with the Washington Post's Lally Weymouth published this week, Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil El Araby outlined numerous policy changes since the ouster of long-time U.S.-backed dictator Hosni Mubarak. In addition to fully supporting (and largely responsible for) the new reconciliation between Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas and working to end the illegal siege of Gaza, El Araby also noted the Egyptian initiative to normalize foreign relations with Iran - a move Iran has been open to for quite some time.
When Weymouth attempted to provoke El Araby into saying something negative about potential Egyptian-Iranian relations by asking if "a big Hezbollah cell [was] aimed at Egypt a few years ago," the Foreign Minister was unfazed. He replied:
"They are not an enemy. If you want me to say it — Iran is not an enemy. We have no enemies. Anywhere."Weymouth then suggested that if Egypt restored its diplomatic relationship with Iran, it would thereby jeopardize its "strategic" relationship with the United States. El Araby, again, didn't take the bait nor did he accept the premise of Weymouth silly suggestion, answering:
"This concept of opening up and turning a new page does not affect our relations with the United States or anyone. Your closest friends and allies — the U.K. and France and Germany — all have diplomatic relations with Iran. I don’t see the problem. All your allies have relations with Iran."In response to the new Egyptian policies, the Los Angeles Times' Jeffrey Fleishman writes, "This new agenda has angered Israel and is an indication that Egypt's emerging diplomacy will test allies and enemies on sensitive matters that could upset the balance of power in the region." Clearly, any shift in the balance of regional power would frustrate and worry both the United States and Israel, since it would inherently weaken their long-established hegemonic hold on the Middle East. As such, Israeli Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom told Israel Radio that the recent Egyptian developments "do not bode well."
Poor little Israel, things just don't seem to be going their way these days.
May 8, 2011 - In response to Dagan's recent comments about the stupidity of an Israeli assault on Iran, Reuters reports:
Israeli Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon denied Dagan's views would affect government decision-making. But he took the former spymaster to task for undermining the Israeli and U.S. strategy of threatening attacks in order to deter Iran and keep other world powers serious about crisis diplomacy.Yup, there you have it. It appears Israel is publicly admitting to being an existential threat to Iran. 'Do what we say,' Israel warns, 'or we'll annihilate you.' Oh, the zirony.
"For the Iranian regime to be persuaded to give up its nuclear capability, it has to be presented by the choice between getting a bomb and surviving, and such statements do not help present Iran with such a dilemma," Ya'alon told Israel Radio.
And let us recall that Chapter 1, Article 2, Paragraph 4 of the United Nations Charter declares quite clearly that "All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations." (emphasis mine)
Moreover, Dagan has received support from other former Israeli intelligence officials. Ha'aretz reports today that two other past Mossad chiefs, Danny Yatom and Ephraim Halevy, as well as MK Shaul Mofaz, chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, also oppose an unprovoked Israeli attack on Iran. In contrast, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Dagan "should not have shared that opinion with the public at large" and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz "agreed, saying he believed Dagan to have been an outstanding Mossad chief but he should have kept the remarks to himself."
Indeed, telling the truth in public is not always welcome in official Israeli circles since it sometimes has the unfortunate effect of damaging worn-out warmongering and propaganda.
At the end of the Reuters piece, Ya'alon is quoted again. "I hope that the Iranians see an Israeli conspiracy in this. That could help," he says.
Don't worry, Moshe, the Iranians have long seen this. So has everyone else. And it hasn't helped you yet. But, hey, it's only been thirty years.
A Busy Week, AIPAC'd with Propaganda
May 24, 2011 - Click to read this update.
Meir Javedanfar's Continued Fear-Mongering and Shoddy Journalism
May 31, 2011 - Click to read this update.
An Illegal, Unprovoked Military Attack on Iran?:
Anything Less Would Be Uncivilized
May 31, 2011 - Click to read this update.
Israel's Pompous Posturing & Idle Threats
June 1, 2011 - Click to read this update.
Jeremy Bernstein's Nuclear Propaganda Fail:
The New York Review of Books Gets It Wrong on Iran
June 2, 2011 - Click to read this update and this follow-up.
June 3, 2011 - A Reuters report quotes Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor as continuing to fear-monger about the Iranian nuclear program, in an effort to increase support for harsher and harsher sanctions on the Islamic Republic, saying that increased pressure "has a chance of success, if it is taken seriously, if it is persistent, if it is very clear, if it is accelerating" and that Iran should face a "heavier price every week, every month, so that they understand they are not going to get away with it." The "it", of course, is Iran's totally legal nuclear energy program, which is monitored and inspected constantly by the IAEA.
"Some months ago we had first signs that people in the Iranian leadership speak of it," Meridor told Reuters. "They haven't yet changed the course, I don't have this illusion, but I think [they are feeling] the price is getting higher and higher."
And then, like clockwork, came the obvious tick-tock of an imminent doomsday scenario:
"Time is of the essence here. Every day gets us and them closer to the day in which Iran will become a military nuclear country," he said.
Clearly, the same clock has been ticking for three decades, yet the hands have never moved.
June 6, 2011 - So, after nearly three decades of false allegations about the Iranian nuclear program and hysterical warnings about how close the Islamic Republic is to building or acquiring an operational nuclear device, RAND researcher Gregory S. Jones has new prediction. And it's a doozy.
According to the Israeli daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, Jones has written a paper based on the most recent IAEA Safeguards Report on Iran and has come to the following conclusion: "At its current rate of uranium enrichment, Tehran could have enough for its first bomb within eight weeks."
Eight weeks?! Alarmism doesn't get any better than this. Apparently, Iran can make a nuclear bomb faster than Gregory Jones can re-tile his own bathroom and sooner than it takes Amazon to ship a 2008 pamphlet co-authored by Jones entitled "Enhancement by Enlargement: The Proliferation Security Initiative." (And no, that's not a prescient biography of Anthony Weiner.)
The best part of Jones' prediction is the reason he gives for the 56-day timeframe:
"Making the bomb will take around two months, he says, because constructing a nuclear warhead, is a complicated step in the process."Yes, making a nuclear warhead is so complicated, according to Jones, that it will take Iran less time to manufacture one than it'll take Jones to build that backyard treehouse he's has been meaning to get to for a while now. Iran will have a nuclear bomb sooner than it takes to air cure pancetta (not that Iran would be interested in doing that).
Jones also states that, at this point in Iran's progress towards a nuclear bomb, "there is nothing the US can do to stop Tehran, short of military occupation," stressing that "stopping Iran will require deploying forces on the ground, because airstrikes are no longer sufficient." He laments that "the reality is that the US and Israel have failed to keep Iran from developing a nuclear warhead whenever it wants."
The dire warning delivered by Jones was echoed this weekend by Israel's Deputy Speaker of the Knesset Danny Danon during an interview with ThinkProgress' Travis Waldron. Danon, speaking with Waldron during the "Faith and Freedom Conference" in Washington D.C. on Saturday, said that the Iranian drive to develop nuclear weapons (which doesn't exist) can not be ignored for long and that military action must be considered, equating Iran to Iraq and Ahmadinejad to Saddam Hussein. After Waldron asked whether the United States should "take preemptive military action against the Iranians," Danon responded this way:
I think it should not be only the burden of the U.S. But the Western society must come and put a timeline to Ahmadinejad. If you don’t finish by this date, we will knock you down. The same way we did with the Iraqi leader, we should do with the Iranian leader. You cannot ignore it. [...]Needless to say, the Iraq analogy is unconvincing considering Iraq had no nuclear weapons when it was illegally invaded and occupied by the United States eight years ago.
I think if the American people would realize that there is a force that is gaining in momentum and is coming after them, they will be able to fight. Today because it is so far away, so remote, people say, ‘Well we see what is happening in Afghanistan, in Iraq, we don’t want to go into another adventure.’ But Iran is different, because Iranian leadership speaks directly against the American people. You will be able to ignore it for a short while, but in the long term, you will have to face it.
And so, the Iran Nuclear Scare Timeline™ has been updated once again. And this time, Iran is set to establish a nuclear arsenal before Gregory S. Jones will even receive his first issue of his new MAD Magazine subscription.
Additionally, the mainstream media's hysteric-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg opines today in a Bloomberg article entitled "Iran Wants the Bomb, and It's Well on Its Way," that "[i]t would take Iran anywhere from six months to a year after expelling the inspectors to enrich uranium to bomb strength, and in this period it's almost guaranteed that Israel or the U.S. would bomb its nuclear facilities." He adds, "Various Western intelligence agencies and independent analysts think that the Iranians already possess enough low- enriched uranium to produce two or three bombs."
He also insists that his nuclear alarmism is a "reality-based worry" based on his characterization of Iranian leaders as "bloody-minded mullahs bent on dominating the Middle East."
July 11, 2011 - Writing in The Guardian today, British foreign secretary William Hague traffics in a dazzling array of fear-mongering about the Iranian nuclear program and demonstrates that all of his erroneous information comes from consistently repeated propaganda talking points with little basis in fact.
The opinion piece, entitled "Iran's nuclear threat is escalating", claims that Iran's recent announcement of its "plans to triple Iran's capacity to produce 20% enriched uranium, transferring enrichment from Natanz to the Fordo plant" is of ominous significance as it "makes even clearer the fact that Iran's programme is not designed for purely peaceful purposes."
Hague goes on to explain that Iran's civilian needs don't require 20% LEU, but then reverses himself and says they do. Then he says they don't. He wonders,
If Iran is serious about developing civil nuclear energy, why divert limited materials and resources away from the civil energy programme in this way, while spurning offers of technological assistance for Iran's peaceful use of nuclear energy from the outside world, including the E3+3 countries of the UK, China, France, Germany, Russia and the US?The answers are obvious, but Hague doesn't seem to care. Instead, his conclusions are as spooky as one would expect:
Yet, there is one clear purpose for this enriched uranium. Enrichment from natural uranium to 20% is the most time consuming and resource-intensive step in making the highly enriched uranium required for a nuclear weapon. And when enough 20% enriched uranium is accumulated at the underground facility at Qom, it would take only two or three months of additional work to convert this into weapons grade material. There would remain technical challenges to actually producing a bomb, but Iran would be a significant step closer.Hague claims that IAEA monitoring, when comes to Iran, is meaningless since, in Hague's opinion, "Iran has a persistent record of evasion and obfuscation with the IAEA" and "has failed to provide the IAEA with access to relevant locations, equipment, persons or documents." Anyone with knowledge of Iran's dealings with the IAEA knows this is far from true.
Citing such spooky things as Iran's "active ballistic missile programme, including the development of missiles with a range of over a thousand kilometres," and recent Iranian military exercises and missile tests, Hague concludes, "A reasonable observer cannot help but join the dots."
Any long-time reader of Wide Asleep in America will know full well just how "reasonable" that assessment truly is.
Hague warns that "Iran's nuclear programme could lead to a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, already the world's most volatile region." Of course, there is absolutely no mention of the fact that the region is already home to hundreds of nuclear bombs, produced and stockpiled by Israel, which is not a member of the NPT or subject to supervision by the IAEA.
In fact, the fear-mongering about an arms race resulting from a hypothetical Iranian bomb while ignoring existing Israeli bombs is not original. For instance, back in September 2007, Charlie Rose said the following absurdity to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during an interview:
"The fear is that if you have a nuclear weapon, everybody in the neighborhood will want a nuclear weapon. You already have two: Pakistan and Israel. What if you have a nuclear weapon, the Saudis have a nuclear weapon, the Egyptians have a nuclear weapon, the Jordanians have a nuclear weapon, and nuclear non-proliferation is gone. And you are a signatory. That's the problem. Not so much they fear you will use the weapon, but it sets off - and it threatens the region."Funny how proliferation only begins after Israel and Pakistan have acquired their own weaponry with impunity.
Towards the end of his nonsense, Hague once again refers to the Iranian plan to relocate some of its enrichment capabilities to its newest operable facility at Fordow and calls the announcement the "latest revelation" of Iran's alleged intransigence. But Iran itself announced the plan, so what was the "revelation"?
Hague's propaganda comes on the heels of a very different kind of article published in The Guardian two days earlier. An op-ed written by six former European ambassadors to Iran (Richard Dalton of the UK, Paul von Maltzahn on Germany, Steen Hohwü-Christensen of Sweden, Guillaume Metten of Belgium, François Nicoullaud of France and Roberto Toscano of Italy) explained clearly, using relevant facts and evidence, that the Islamic Republic is in fact not on the verge of acquiring nuclear weapons and that assertions to the contrary are, quite simply, deliberate lies.
The article, entitled "Iran is not in breach of international law," states unequivocally, "There is no evidence that the country is building nuclear weapons," and places most of the blame on "the west's strategy" regarding Iran for creating the current "standoff." The ambassadors expertly point out the staggering hypocrisy of the West towards Iran and its nuclear program, the ongoing misguided efforts to foment regime change, and debunk the oft-repeated falsehood that Iran is intransigent and unwilling to compromise or negotiate. Whereas these facts are not new, their publication in a mainstream media forum is certainly rare and noteworthy. The article is excellent and worth quoting at length (emphasis added):
In terms of international law, the position of Europe and the United States may be less assured than is generally believed. Basically, it is embodied in a set of security council resolutions authorising coercive measures in case of "threats to the peace".It's clear which Guardian piece relies on facts, context, and reality and which one rests on insinuation, demonization and innuendo.
But what constitutes the threat? Is it the enrichment of uranium in Iranian centrifuges? This is certainly a sensitive activity, in a highly sensitive region. The international community's concerns are legitimate and Iran has a moral duty to answer them. In principle, however, nothing in international law or in the non-proliferation treaty forbids uranium enrichment. Several other countries, parties or not to the treaty, enrich uranium without being accused of "threatening the peace". And in Iran, this activity is submitted to inspections by the IAEA inspections. These inspections, it's true, are albeit constrained by an agreement on safeguards dating from the 70s. But the IAEA has never uncovered any attempted diversion of nuclear material to military use.
So is Iran attempting to build a nuclear weapon? For at least three years, the US intelligence community has discounted this hypothesis. The US director of national intelligence, James Clapper, testified last February to Congress: "We continue to assess [whether] Iran is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons … We do not know, however, if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons."
Most experts, even in Israel, view Iran as striving to become a "threshold country", technically able to produce a nuclear weapon but abstaining from doing so for now. Again, nothing in international law forbids this ambition. Several other countries are close to, or have already reached, such a threshold, with a commitment not to acquire nuclear weapons. Nobody seems to bother them.
We often hear that Iran's refusal to negotiate seriously left our countries no other choice but to drag it in 2006 to the security council. Here too, things are not quite that clear. In 2005 Iran was ready to discuss an upper limit for the number of its centrifuges and to maintain its rate of enrichment far below the high levels necessary for weapons. Tehran also expressed its readiness to allow intrusive inspections, even in non-declared sites. But at that time Europe and the US wanted to compel Iran to ditch its enrichment programme entirely.
Iranians assume that this is still the European and US goal, and that for this reason the security council insists on suspension of all Iranian enrichment activities. But the goal of "zero centrifuges operating in Iran, permanently or temporarily" is unrealistic, and has contributed greatly to the present standoff.
July 13, 2011 - Writing in Tehran Bureau, David Albright and Andrea Stricker spend seven short paragraphs pretending Iran has an active nuclear weapons program. In fact, the term "nuclear weapons" is used fourteen times; the one reference to North Korea is offset by a bonus reference to an Iranian "explosive device" using high enriched uranium.
Referring to Iran's stated goal of increasing its production of 20% LEU, the authors claim that "[t]hese steps will make it easier for Iran to quickly break out to nuclear weapons." They also state, citing a single source they describe as "an expert close to the International Atomic Energy Agency", that the new head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Mossad assassination survivor Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, "has increased the crisis atmosphere." They allege (citing absolutely no evidence), that "Abbasi-Davani is a physicist widely suspected of having a background in Iran's nuclear weapons research programs," claiming he "has regularly been linked to Iran's efforts to actually craft a nuclear weapon" and "was a key scientist in the Iranian covert nuclear weapons program", as well as having "personally directed work to calculate the yield of a nuclear weapon."
Albright and Stricker then claim that, were Iran to "reach a so-called 'break out' capability", it would be able to "make enough weapon-grade uranium for a nuclear weapon in a few months" and add that "Iran already has the knowledge to build a crude nuclear weapon, according to the IAEA."
They then lament that "since the [Fordow] facility is located 90 meters underneath a mountain", it can't be easily bombed or destoryed by U.S. or Israeli air strikes. "If Iran were to restrict IAEA inspectors from having access to the plant," they pout, "little could be done aside from bombing the facility's tunnel entrances or introducing ground troops, which could trigger a full-scale war."
The spooky specter of an Iran that is "steadily moving to a status as a virtual nuclear weapons state in which it could build nuclear weapons quickly and easily" completely ignores the fact that at least 40 other countries already have that exact capability and are subject to absolutely no international scrutiny, let alone sanctions and threats.
One wonders if David Albright recalls his own statements to the San Francisco Chronicle back in October 2003 with regard to claims of an Iranian nuclear weapons program made by the MEK: "We should be very suspicious about what our leaders or the exile groups say about Iran's nuclear capacity."
He continued, "There is a drumbeat of allegations, but there's not a whole lot of solid information. It may be that Iran has not made the decision to build nuclear weapons. We have to be very careful not to overstate the intelligence."
July 13, 2011 - A Reuters report published today, entitled "Iran to enrich higher-grade uranium in underground bunker", once again addresses the totally non-secret plan of Iran to "install centrifuges for higher-grade uranium enrichment in an underground bunker." Of course, the IAEA-monitored and inspected Fordow facility is dismissed as a devious subterranean lair.
Citing only "diplomatic sources," the report states, "Preparatory work is under way at the Fordow facility, tucked deep inside a mountain to protect it against any attacks, and machines used to refine uranium could soon be moved to the site near the clerical city of Qom." None of this is unknown or controversial. Iran itself has announced this.
Nevertheless, Reuters reveals: "'They are preparing (for the centrifuges to be installed) in Fordow,' one diplomatic source said." Yeah, no shit. That's what the Iranian press release said.
The report goes on to misrepresent facts about the Fordow facility, claiming that "Iran only disclosed the existence of Fordow two years ago after Western intelligence detected it and said it was evidence of covert nuclear activities." Untrue. Iran announced the facility to the IAEA five days before it was "revealed" by Obama during a theatrical press conference.
"Carrying out the process in Fordow could provide greater protection for Iran's uranium-purifying centrifuges against any U.S. and Israeli air strikes," say Reuters, omitting that such strikes would kill people and are illegal. Shameful.
July 14, 2011 - A new article by Diane Barnes at Global Security Newswire reports that "Violent extremists could be among those to benefit from a relationship with a nuclear-armed Iran, according to Christopher Ford, who most recently served as U.S. special representative for nuclear nonproliferation."
Ford, speaking before the neoconservative think tank The Hudson Institute alongside former IAEA official/perennial Iran alarmist Olli Heinonen, stated, "Given the scope and depth of Iran's involvement in international terrorist groups [sic], I think terrorist acquisition of [nuclear] weapons, material and technology could come about either deliberately or inadvertently. One can't rule out, of course, the possibility of transfers occurring without top-level authorization."
After claiming that "Iran has developed a rich network of black- and gray-market ties around the world for the acquisition of nuclear-related technology," Ford, who heads the Institute's Center for Technology and Global Security, continued, "This ‘spider web’ of international contacts and transnational relationships for the acquisition and trading in nuclear technology is one that sort of co-exists -- overlaps, in a sense -- in Iran, with its own extensive network of terrorist ties."
These "terrorist ties", of course, refer to such resistance groups like Hezbollah and Hamas, which are the go-to bogeymen for warmongering analysts like Ford and his cronies at Hudson and elsewhere.
This line of speculation is not new, let alone revelatory or insightful.
In August 2005, a study [PDF] entitled "Reassessing the Implications of a Nuclear-Armed Iran" was published by the National Defense University's Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS), which provides research and analysis for the U.S. Department of Defense. Its authors determined that, "while some security experts, predominantly Israeli, fear that Iran's leaders would provide terrorists with nuclear weapons, we judge, and nearly all experts consulted agree, that Iran would not, as a matter of state policy, give up its control of such weapons to terrorist organizations and risk direct U.S. or Israeli retribution."
"Many specialists on Iran share a widespread feeling that Iran’s desire to be seen as a pragmatic nuclear power would tend to rein in whatever ideological impulses it might otherwise have to disseminate nuclear weapons or technologies to terrorists. there is less agreement, however, on whether the regime in tehran could reliably control all elements within the Iranian system that might have the means, motive, and opportunity to do so."That was nearly six years ago. Around and around we go.
Fleitz of Fancy & A New Diehl on Iran
July 20, 2011 - Click here to read this update.
This Time on "What White People Think About Iran"...!
July 21, 2011 - Click here to read this update.
August 4, 2011 - Allegations about Iran's nuclear program have not slowed down.
Compulsive liar Ray Takeyh of the Council on Foreign Relations once again makes ridiculous claims in one of the country's leading newspapers. On August 3, The Washington Post published an editorial, entitled ominously "The march toward a nuclear Iran", in which Takeyh recounts a somewhat selective history of Iran's nuclear program and comes to the conclusion, despite the fact that absolutely nothing in his article supports it, that Iran is just around the corner from having a nuke.
He warns that the American notion that "time is on our side" when it comes to an Iranian nuclear weapon is naive and unrealistic and manages to squirt out some truth by writing that sanctions have not worked to slow down Iran's scientific and technological progress. He then uses this information to scare his audience about the dangers of Iran. He also seems to find it strange that Iranian scientists are supported by the government (oh yeah, same thing happens here) and don't like being targeted by foreign spies for assassination:
In today's Iran, rulers and scientists have crafted a national compact whereby the state provides the resources while the scientists furnish their expertise. A dedicated corps of scientific nationalists is committed to providing its country with the capacity to reach the height of technological achievement and, in the process, provide the mullahs with the means of building the bomb.Horrifying, right? Takeyh's not done. He ends with this:
Exact estimates vary, but in the next few years Iran will be in position to detonate a nuclear device. An aggressive theocracy armed with the bomb will cast a dangerous shadow over the region's political transition, but the consequences will not be limited to the Middle East. An Iranian bomb is likely to unleash the most divisive partisan discord in this country since the 1949 debate about who lost China. In the end, neither the turbulent order of the Middle East nor the partisan politics of Washington can afford an Islamic Republic armed with nuclear weapons.Sure, there's other nonsense in his article which can easily be discredited, but, honestly, it's all far too stupid to waste time on.
According to a different article, written by Michael Eisenstadt of the Washington Institute think tank, Iran doesn't even have to have a nuclear weapons program to be a threat. Eisenstadt writes, "Unless the United States reverses the current dynamic, Iran could reap the perceived benefits of being a nuclear power even without building a bomb." Apparently, an IAEA-monitored nuclear energy program and a moderate arsenal of conventional weapons, along with the rampant repetition of age-old propaganda such as the "wipe Israel off the map" silliness, the Gerdab "Nuclear Test" article, and the secret-until-they-weren't enrichment facilities is enough to instill a sufficient amount terror in the minds of his readers that Eisenstadt goes for it while still believing he's a respectable Beltway analyst.
He pretends Iran has an policy of nuclear "ambiguity" (no, Michael, that's Israel) and claims, "Should Iran attempt to create a weapon at a clandestine facility (presumably what it had in mind for Natanz and Qom before their existence became public), Israel or the United States might not detect it in time to act."
Iran - by Eisenstadt's account - is apparently damned if they do and damned if they don't.
In short: AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!
August 23, 2011 - Speaking yesterday in Tulsa, Republican Senator Jim Inhofe declared in his serious voice, "We know - and it is not even classified for me to tell you today - that Iran will have the capability of delivering a weapon of mass destruction to western Europe and the eastern United States by 2015."
Inhofe, who is the second-ranking member on the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, added, "I see that as the most imminent threat to this country right now. So that is a problem we are going to have deal with."
November 7, 2011 - A compendium of the past few months' worth of super scary Iran nuclear predictions can be found here:
Rattling Sabers & Beating Drums: Fear-Mongering over Nuclear Iran Reaches a Fever-Pitch
November 16, 2011 - The alarmist and often completely wrong Jerusalem-based right-wing website DEBKAfile has a new prediction. A report from this week claims:
According to the briefing given to a closed meeting of Jewish leaders in New York Sunday, Nov. 13, the window of opportunity for stopping Iran attaining a nuclear weapon is closing fast, DEBKAfile's sources report. It will shut down altogether after late March 2012. The intelligence reaching US President Barak Obama is that by April, Iran will already have five nuclear bombs or warheads and military action then would generate a dangerous level of radioactive contamination across the Gulf region, the main source of the world's energy.Oh. My. God. Five. Nuclear. Bombs. Or. Warheads. By April.
Clearly, it's time to hide your kids, hide your wife, and hide your husband cuz, by the Spring, Iran's gonna be nuking e'rybody out here. Quick, Israeli and American pilots, to the bombmobiles! Time is running out for you to murder innocent people for no reason without contaminating our precious oil!
One wonders who was briefing a room of "Jewish leaders" on such sensitive information that no one else seems to have, doesn't make sense, and clearly isn't true. Furthermore, with the recent departure of Dennis Ross, is the president really getting such silly intel anymore? Let's hope not.
It should be pointed out that, in the words of Yedioth Ahronot investigative reporter Ronen Bergman, "DEBKAfile has frequently promulgated materials put out by rightist elements of the Republican Party, whose worldview is that the situation is bad and is only going to get worse," and that the site is often dismissed as trafficking in conspiracy theories. Bergman has said that "Israeli intelligence officials do not consider even 10 percent of the site's content to be reliable." Furthermore, Cornell Law professor Michael C. Dorf has referred to DEBKAfile as his "favorite alarmist Israeli website trading in rumors."
October 21, 2012 - An update covering the past eleven-and-a-half months of incessant fear-mongering, false predictions, new alarmist headlines, deadlines, red lines, timelines, end zones, zones of immunity, windows of opportunity, and points of no return, can be found here:
The Constant Countdown: Never-Ending Hype, Hysteria, and Hyperbole about Iran's Nuclear Program
October 25, 2012 - Iran alarmists are back at it. This time, Reuters reports that former IAEA inspector Olli Heinonen and AIPAC spin-off WINEP think tanker Simon Henderson are claiming that "Iran may be able to accumulate up to four 'significant quantities' of weapons-grade uranium - each sufficient for one bomb - in as little as nine months from now."
In order to reach maximum spookosity, Heinonen and Henderson write in a new report, "This timetable will shrink as more 20 percent enriched uranium is produced, at which point potential breakout time will be measured in weeks rather than months."
Among the key facts that H&H deliberately ignore in order to fear-monger about Iran is that it is now widely acknowledged that Iran has gone to great technological lengths to reduce its stockpile of 20% enriched uranium, which it has always stated was needed for the sole purpose of continuing to provide much needed medical diagnostic isotopes for scanning and treating over 800,000 cancer patients. The "danger" of Iranian "breakout" capability has therefore substantially decreased rather than grown.
As I have written previously, "Iran turned to this higher level of enrichment only as a last resort to replenish its supply of medical isotopes which, after more than two decades, has been depleted (the last batch of 23 kg of 19.75% LEU was obtained in 1988 from Argentina). In advance of running out, Iran tried to purchase more on the open market under full IAEA supervision, yet this move was prevented by the United States and the subsequent LEU swap deal was canceled after the U.S. refused to act in good faith."
Beyond this, the Iranian government has consistently stated that, were Iran to be provided fuel for its Tehran Research Reactor, it would immediately stop enriching uranium up to 19.75%.
During a September 13, 2011 interview in Tehran with The Washington Post's Lally Weymouth, Ahmadinejad explained, "For power stations, we need uranium of 3.5 percent, and we are producing that fuel. For the Tehran reactor, we need uranium grade of 20 percent, and we are producing that. We have no other requirements. Of course at the beginning we had no interest to produce uranium grade 20 percent. But the West refrained from giving us that uranium, so we had to start producing uranium grade 20 percent."
He added, unequivocally, "If they give us the 20% enriched uranium this very week, we will cease the domestic enrichment of uranium of up to 20 percent this very week...We don't want to produce uranium of 20 percent. Because they did not give us that uranium, we had to make our own investments. If they start to give us that uranium today, we will stop production...If they give us uranium grade 20 percent, we would stop production...I repeat: If you give us uranium grade 20 percent now, we will stop production. Because uranium grade 20 percent can only be used for such reactors, nothing else."
On September 21, 2011, The New York Times' Nick Kristoff interviewed Ahmadinejad in New York City and was told by the Iranian president, "If they give us the 20% enriched uranium this very week, we will cease the domestic enrichment of uranium of up to 20 percent this very week. We only want the 20% enrichment for our domestic consumption. If they give it to us according to international law, according to IAEA laws, without preconditions, we will cease domestic enrichment. This is not something we wish to produce and sell on the open market. 20% enriched uranium, as you know, is not useful for much of anything other than the production of cancer treatment medication. It is not useful for a power plant."
The next day, on September 22, 2011, Reuters reported that Ahmadinejad had told a small media gathering, "Any time they can guarantee us this sale...we will stop 20 percent enrichment," continuing, "Whenever these assurances are given, we will do our part. We will cease domestic enrichment at the 20 percent level. That's all. But we will continue the building of new power plants."
Even Iranian media reported his offer, quoting Ahmadinejad as telling reporters, "If IAEA or those countries with access to the required technology guarantee that will procure Tehran research reactor with enriched uranium, we will stop enrichment up to the level of 20 percent."
In early October 2011, Ahmadinejad repeated his offer on Iranian television: "If they give us the 20 percent fuel, we will immediately halt 20 percent," adding, "we need fuel to 3.5 percent for our plants and research."
But all this doesn't matter to those who wish to fear-monger about Iran and push Israel and the United States ever closer to an unprovoked military assault.
November 9, 2012 - Ehud Barak, as reported by the Associated Press, has stated that Iran has "essentially delayed their arrival at the red line by eight months," by converting much of its 20% enriched uranium into material that can not be weaponized. As such, the Israeli Defense Minister says there remains time for a diplomatic solution before Israel would commit war crimes against Iran for no reason.
Speaking on Israel's Channel 2 TV, Barak said he didn't know why Iran had made the decision to convert the enriched uranium into material to be used for its medical research reactor in Tehran.
"I don't know why they did it. I don't know if it was because of the deterrence that was connected to our statements and positions," he said. "Maybe it comes from other considerations but that allowed for the delay until the spring or summer."
Naturally, the fact that Iran has long stated its intention to do exactly what it has now done was not considered by the Israeli official.
December 5, 2012 - The propagandists over at the Wall Street Journal editorial page (okay, who are we kidding, it's Bret Stephens) have posted a silly article fear-mongering about the Iranian nuclear reactor at Bushehr.
The entire thing is nonsense, presenting unrealistic scenarios with no basis in fact or history. He makes claims about Iranian plutonium which have little in common with reality. He frets that "Iran is increasing the number of routes it can take to race toward a bomb" and states Iran currently has a stockpile of enriched uranium which, "with some additional enrichment" of course, would be enough "for probably six bombs." He also determines that Iran could somehow reprocess fuel rods "into weapons-grade plutonium" which could eventually be manufactured into "as many as 24 Nagasaki-type bombs." Because, sure, why the hell not?
Despite the fact that, as the New York Times reports, "the plant [at Bushehr] itself is not controversial" and fully under IAEA surveillance and safeguards, Stephens is trying to make even the most mundane aspects of Iran's nuclear program suspect. He obviously omits the U.S. government's own perspective on Bushehr as articulated in the past by State Department spokesman Darby Holladay who told the press once Bushehr became operational in 2010, "We recognize that the Bushehr reactor is designed to provide civilian nuclear power and do not view it as a proliferation risk."
These views were echoed by senior State Department mouthpiece P.J. Crowley at the time. "Bushehr is designed to provide electricity to Iran. It is not viewed as a proliferation risk," he told NPR. Ian Anthony, director of the arms control and non-proliferation program at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) concurred with such an assessment.
Not even Israeli officials or long-time alarmists could use Bushehr as a foil. "Our problem is with the other facilities that they have, where they enrich uranium," Uzi Landau, Israel's Minister of National Infrastructure, explained. Mark Fitzpatrick of the International Institute for Strategic Studies has said, "Bushehr is not a proliferation risk as long as it is run to produce power for electricity generation," adding that "the IAEA would know if Iran tried to divert the spent fuel, before it is cooled sufficiently to send it back to Russia."
Another non-proliferation analyst, Mark Hibbs of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, has granted that while "theoretically, any power reactor is a 'proliferation threat' in the sense that its spent fuel can be diverted from IAEA safeguards, reprocessed, and the plutonium used to make bombs," over the course of the last half-century, "no proliferator has ever diverted power reactor fuel from IAEA safeguards to make bombs in a hurry."
Even more recently, Fitzpatrick has reaffirmed that any removal of fuel from the Bushehr reactor should not be cause for much alarm (as Stephens would have us believe), suggesting that such a move - especially in full view and under strict IAEA safeguards - most likely "signifies technical trouble." Despite his own record of hysteria over Iran's nuclear program, former IAEA inspector Olli Heinonen said the spent fuel from Bushehr is "not really" a proliferation risk.
Stephens' record on Iran warmongering is legion; he has exploited every tired talking point there is to promote a Likudnik agenda of devastating economic warfare and collective punishment, the feasibility and possible necessity of an Israeli military strike on Iran,and ultimately often advocates for an aggressive policy of regime change. He reminds his readers constantly of the Israeli assaults on Iraqi and Syrian facilities, always forgetting to explain that these actions were illegal, counter-productive and condemned by nearly every government on Planet Earth. He has written that, because of Iran, Israel is in "frightful peril" and reacted to rumors that "the Obama administration may be reconsidering its military options toward Iran," by writing, "Let's hope so."
The best part of Bret Stephens' new WSJ editorial is how he concludes:
These columns have been warning of the proliferation risk posed by Bushehr since May 2002. As always with Iran's nuclear ambitions, the worst suspicions come true.Uh huh, gotcha, Bret. Tell that to the last three decades of allegations and speculation about Iran's mad dash for a bomb. Any day now, though, right?
[Also, late last month - on November 27, 2012 - Reuters' resident Iran alarmist Fredrick Dahl reported that an increase in Iran's stockpile of 19.75% enriched uranium, which is far from weapons grade, has sent a number of hawkish analysts and diplomats into a tizzy.
"The question is, at what point do they cross the critical point ... when we enter the danger zone?" one senior diplomatic source said. "Will they decide to voluntarily decide to stay clear of that point?"The best unnecessary freak out was provided by uber-hawk Emanuele Ottolenghi of the psychotic Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. "By the late spring, at this pace, Iran will have more than enough to arm its first weapon," he said.]
January 8, 2013 - In a hilarious new piece of nonsense for the right-wing nutjob website WorldNetDaily, the former CIA agent and surgical face mask aficionado who goes by the pseudonym "Reza Kahlili" writes that all the hoopla over potential Iranian nuclear "capability" or secret weapons program is for naught considering that...wait for it...Iran has already "successfully...built a nuclear bomb with the help of Russia and North Korea and has enough weapons-grade uranium and plutonium for more."
According to what "Kahlili" calls "a source in the Revolutionary Guards intelligence unit" with "access to Iran's nuclear program," the Iranian government - oh sorry, the "Islamic regime" - is currently "working out of seven nuclear sites, most unknown to the IAEA, and that its nuclear bomb program is complete." Furthermore, "North Korea has provided the regime with plutonium for nuclear warheads, the source verified, and the last obstacle to overcome is arming missiles with those warheads."
The story goes on and on like this, providing satellite images that mean nothing and making comical allegations that mean even less.
January 14, 2013 - Perennial fear-monger David Albright of the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) has collaborated with other so-called "experts" and produced a report that claims, "Based on the current trajectory of Iran's nuclear program, we estimate that Iran could reach critical capability in mid-2014." Obviously, we've been here before...constantly for the past 30 years, in fact.
The report, which Albright co-wrote with neocon "economic warfare"-pusher and regime change advocate Mark Dubowitz of the rabidly anti-Islam, anti-Iran, and hawkish Zionist think tank "Foundation for the Defense of Democracies" (and other right-wing and FDD-affiliated analysts and researchers) calls upon Obama to increase the pressure of sanctions, announce a "de facto international embargo on all investments in, and trade with, Iran" if Tehran does not kowtow to U.S. diktat and comply with illegal, ultra vires U.N. Security Council resolutions, and suggests Obama should send a "crystal clear" message to Iran that he is ready to initiate a war of aggression against Iran - the supreme international war crime.
In addition to "undertak[ing] additional overt preparations for the use of warplanes and/or missiles to destroy Iran's nuclear capabilities with high explosives" the authors suggest that "[t]he president should explicitly declare that he will use military force to destroy Iran's nuclear program," the report states, "if Iran takes additional decisive steps toward producing a bomb."
Considering Iran hasn't actually taken any such steps, let alone "decisive" ones, is obviously irrelevant and unimportant to these "experts."
The report, research for which was conducted primarily by warmongering neocon acolytes associated with FDD, relies heavily on tired, long-debunked narratives of Iranian irrationality, martyr-statism, and genocidal annihilationism, not to mention a total bastardization of actual IAEA and Western intelligence findings. It's 155 pages of fear and propaganda, assembled to advance military threats, collective punishment, murder, sabotage, regime change and war crimes. It's a testament to the moral bankruptcy, Orientalism, well-worn myths and constant falsehoods that make up American (and Israeli) discourse on Iran today.
Perhaps most important, though is that, with this new report, Albright himself has finally dropped the pretense of being an objective observer or scientific analyst of the Iranian nuclear program and has placed himself squarely alongside and aligned with people like Dubowitz and organizations like FDD that have long led the charge for war. This should fully discredit and delegitimize Albright forever. But it won't. Instead, he'll get even more public attention and his bogus conclusions will echo through the mainstream media.
Fear and ignorance will continue to reign.
[Mini-Update: January 16, 2013 - A number of critiques of the report have been published, namely this one by IPS' Jim Lobe.]
[Mini-Update II: January 18, 2013 ;- Peter Jenkins, a former UK Ambassador to the IAEA and UN and an astute analyst of Iran-related policy, writes in LobeLog of the blatantly unbalanced nature of the report, which traffics solely in "worst-case assumptions" and discounts any less alarmist contingencies or conclusions.
Among other observations, Jenkins writes,
A similar determination to convince readers that Armageddon is approaching emerges from random details:
- the authors describe a building at Iran’s Parchin site as a "weaponisation facility". For the IAEA, it is merely a building suspected of housing or having housed a chamber for high explosive testing;
- they describe Iran's centrifuge manufacturing plants as "hidden", but they are simply outside the scope of IAEA safeguards. (When the West was negotiating seriously with Iran, however, between 2003 and 2005, Iran allowed the IAEA access to these plants as a confidence-building measure.)
- they state that there is considerable debate regarding the stage at which timely detection would no longer be possible, but then go on to describe the position of only one (alarmist) voice in this debate: that of Israel's Prime Minister.
An underlying problem is the authors' apparent lack of awareness of the full range of motives that can determine the decision-making of a participant in the international state system. Iran is portrayed as a one-dimensional villain, hell-bent on acquiring nuclear weapons quickly so as to inflict pain on Israel and the southeastern zone of NATO, and only tractable through sanctions and force.Jenkins suggests, "Perhaps they've been watching too many Hollywood movies."]
[Mini-Update III: January 19, 2013 - Chemical engineering professor and Iran analyst Muhammad Sahimi has posted an exceptional takedown of Albright and his new report.]
January 25, 2013 - Welcome the newest Iranian Ahmed Chalabi!
In a recent interview with Israel's Channel 2 TV, a former Iranian diplomat who defected to Norway as his foreign service was expiring in 2010, repeated tell-tale alarmist agitprop regarding the Iranian nuclear program and Iran's suppose threat to the world.
Mohammad Reza Heydari told the Israeli press, "If Iran is given more time, it will acquire the knowledge necessary to build a nuclear bomb within a year." When asked whether Iran would actually launch an unprovoked nuclear attack, he insisted, "If Iran gets to the point where it has an atomic bomb, it will certainly use it, against Israel or any other [enemy] country."
Heydari, whose propaganda services it can be assumed were arranged by Mossad, recited a veritable greatest hits of well-worn warmongering, appealing to Shi'a theology, allegations of Iranian dealings with any and all bogey-groups from Hezbollah to the Taliban to the North Koreans to al Qaeda, fears of an Iranian-Venezuelan Axis of Anti-Imperial Mischief™, and how scary people with beards are. He also claimed that "the mafia" is in the uranium selling business. Here's some of the best stuff:
"They [Iranian leaders] are busying themselves with ideological preparations for the arrival of the hidden Imam and are preparing the ground for that in a practical way; for this purpose, they are willing to spill much blood and destroy many countries."
...Hezbollah groups would come to Iran, acquire knowledge and send it back to Lebanon, under the auspices of the Revolutionary Guards. He said that Hezbollah had contacts with terrorist outfits in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the Taliban and al-Qaeda, with which it had close ties.
[Heydari] knew of civilian airplanes from South America arriving with no passengers but with weaponry and material for the nuclear program. He spoke in the interview of uranium purchased for and transported to Iran by Venezuela.
"Venezuela might buy uranium from another country, and after that, send it to Iran by civil flight," Heydari said. He suggested that the uranium was bought from "the mafia."
He also said he had been told when serving as a diplomat to try to recruit western nuclear scientists for large salaries and had personally arranged for dozens of North Korean nuclear personnel to come to Iran. He said Iran used diplomatic mail to import material relating to its nuclear program.According to Heydari, in order "to help the Iranians," the international community should insist on "closing all Iranian embassies abroad and preventing Iranian ministers from leaving the country with the threat of their arrests."
With such principled and truthful regime change enthusiasts out there doing Netanyahu's heavy-lifting in the Israeli media, what could go wrong?
January 28, 2013 - Israel has just provided a new prediction for the endless Iran Nuclear Scare Timeline™.
McClatchy reports today that "Israeli intelligence officials now estimate that Iran won't be able to build a nuclear weapon before 2015 or 2016, pushing back by several years previous assessments of Iran's nuclear ambitions." The report is based on "Intelligence briefings given to McClatchy over the last two months" which "confirmed that various officials across Israel's military and political echelons now think it's unrealistic that Iran could develop a nuclear weapons arsenal before 2015. Others pushed the date back even further, to the winter of 2016."
The lengthening of the timeline, in contrast to the usual Israeli and American chatter, is not solely due to the incessant sanctions, sabotage and covert espionage illegally targeting the safeguarded Iranian nuclear program. Rather, says a unnamed Israeli intelligence officer, "We can't attribute the delays in Iran's nuclear program to accidents and sabotage alone. There has not been the run towards a nuclear bomb that some people feared. There is a deliberate slowing on their end."
Considering the relentless fear-mongering of Israel's past, present and future Prime Minister - the ubiquitous Netanyahu - this new assessment puts somewhat of a damper on his manufactured alarmism and, almost inconceivably, makes his show-and-tell bomb cartoon silliness (which gave a whole new meaning to the word agitprop) at the United Nations last September even more shameful, embarrassing and pathetic.
"Israeli officials, however, have said there's a widening gulf between Netanyahu's remarks and the intelligence reports he receives," reports McClatchy. "There is a question we have to ask ourselves, of 'Did we cry wolf too early?'" the anonymous Israeli source wondered.
Nevertheless, since Israel has been hysterically crying wolf for the past two decades, we can expect these lessons will not soon be learned. Expect a new assessment warning of a looming Iranian threat in the coming months...paging David Albright!
[Mini-Update: January 31, 2013 - As commanded, David Albright has appeared out of the ether to drop some fear bombs on us. Today, in a dispatch headlined, "Ominous development in Iran's path to nuclear weapon," CBS News reported, "Iran is planning to speed up its nuclear program by using new centrifuges that can quickly enrich uranium so that it could be used to build an atomic bomb sooner than had been anticipated."
Inevitably, CBS rang up Albright to get his take on the news. "It's the thing that everyone has been fearing," he said. Once installed and operational, Albright estimated that, using the upgraded centrifuges, Iran could produce enough weapon-grade uranium almost immediately. "In one or two weeks, they could have enough for a nuclear weapon, and that's going to be hard to both detect and respond to," he claimed, adding, "But it may be detectable after they've finished."
Then a thunder clap was heard in the distance.]
February 4, 2013 - Amos Yadlin, former head of Israeli Military Intelligence and current director of the Institute for National Security Studies, unveiled a new prediction today. "Iran is currently four to six months away from nuclear breakout stage, if an order is given to reach that phase now," says Yadlin, according to reports in the Israeli and international press.
This estimate comes on the heels of recent news that Iran is planning to substantially upgrade its enrichment technology with more efficient equipment.
Yadlin also said that a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear issue was preferable that resorting to military means and envisaged an agreement that respected Iran's continued ability to enrich uranium domestically through the possession of 1,200 centrifuges. If Iran's enrichment capacity were slowed, limited and regulated, thereby - in his estimation - enabling "a couple of years [to] separate Iran from nuclear breakout, that would be a better solution than a military attack."
March 5, 2013 - Addressing the annual AIPAC Conference by video, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed that "Iran is getting closer" to his self-determined "red line" of nuclear weapons capability and is "putting itself in a position to cross that line very quickly once it decides to do so."
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, speaking to the same crowd, said that the "window is closing" for a diplomatic solution to the impasse over Iran's nuclear program.
[For more on Netanyahu and Biden's comments, see here.]
March 14, 2013 - "Right now, we think it would take over a year or so for Iran to actually develop a nuclear weapon, but obviously we don’t want to cut it too close," President Barack Obama told an Israeli television station.
[For more on Obama's comments, see here.]
March 19, 2013 - Researcher and superhysteric Gregory S. Jones has just published a new prediction.
In a report for the bizarrely-amateurish Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, Jones writes, "Using Iran's currently operating enrichment capabilities, Iran could produce the HEU [high enriched uranium] for a nuclear weapon in just two months and enough HEU for a second nuclear weapon two months after that."
Roughly 4,000 of the centrifuges that Iran has installed are not yet enriching uranium. It is not hard to imagine that these additional centrifuges could come on-line in the next three to six months (i.e. in the “near-term”). If they do, then by using batch recycling Iran could produce enough HEU for a nuclear weapon in just one and one-half months and enough HEU for two nuclear weapons in three months.Jones likes making predictions because speculating on things that aren't happening is fun. Back in June 2011, he came to the following conclusion: "At its current rate of uranium enrichment, Tehran could have enough for its first bomb within eight weeks."
In late August 2012, Jones wrote that "Iran could use its enrichment facilities and enriched uranium stockpiles to produce enough HEU for a nuclear weapon in a little less than two and one half months (10 weeks)." He added that, if Iran had a "small clandestine enrichment plant to produce HEU...then Iran could produce enough HEU for a nuclear weapon in just one and one half months (six and one half weeks) and enough HEU for four nuclear weapons in six months."
Y'know, cuz, whatever, why the hell not?
March 21, 2013 - In a joint press conference in Jerusalem on Wednesday, U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continued to issue boilerplate propagandistic warnings about Iran, spouting their trademark alarmist and bellicose rhetoric, now all too reminiscent of allegations made about the non-existent threat Iraq supposedly posed to the world a decade ago.
Netanyahu noted "Iran's relentless pursuit of nuclear weapons" before reiterating his position that "in order to stop Iran's nuclear programs peacefully, diplomacy and sanctions must be augmented by a clear and credible threat of military action."
In response to a question from NBC's Chuck Todd regarding Obama's recent claim that "it would take over a year or so for Iran to actually develop a nuclear weapon," Netanyahu said:
If Iran decides to go for a nuclear weapon -- that is, to actually manufacture the weapon -- then it probably -- then it would take them about a year. I think that's correct. They could defer that a long time but still get through the enrichment process -- that is, to make a weapon you need two things; you need enriched uranium of a critical amount and then you need a weapon. You can't have the weapon without the enriched uranium, but you can have the enriched uranium without the weapon.Talk about relentless!
Iran right now is enriching uranium. It's pursuing it. It hasn't yet reached the red line that I had described in my speech at the U.N. -- they're getting closer, though.
Netanyahu added, "In any case, Iran gets to an immunity zone when they get through the enrichment process, in our view -- in our view -- and whatever time is left, there's not a lot of time. And every day that passes diminishes it."
He made sure to point out, of course, that a "nuclear Iran" is "a grave threat to Israel, a grave threat to the world."
For his part, Obama stated that he and Netanyahu "agree that a nuclear-armed Iran would be a threat to the region, a threat to the world, and potentially an existential threat to Israel. And we agree on our goal. We do not have a policy of containment when it comes to a nuclear Iran. Our policy is to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon." As such, the president said, "All options are on the table. We will do what is necessary to prevent Iran from getting the world's worst weapons."
Obama, who presides over the world's largest stockpile of nukes, said these things while standing next to the Prime Minister of a state that has an unacknowledged, unmonitored and non-safeguarded arsenal of those exact "world's worst weapons."
March 26, 2013 - David Albright and his war crazy, neoconservative buddies Mark Dubowitz and Ordie Kittrie are back spouting nonsense in the pages of the Wall Street Journal. This time around, in an ridiculous article entitled "Stopping an Undetectable Iranian Bomb," these three propagandists offer their thoughts on "how to stop Iran's rapid advance toward 'critical capability,'" which they define as "the point at which Iran could dash to produce enough weapons-grade uranium or separated plutonium for one bomb so quickly that the International Atomic Energy Agency or a Western intelligence service would be unable to detect the dash until it is over."
"Once Iran has produced sufficient fissile material," they warn, "it will be much more difficult for the West to stop Iran from completing the process of actually building nuclear weapons."
Many fear-mongering shibboleths are trotted out, from numbers of spinning centrifuges to stockpiled quantities of enriched uranium of various grades, all devoid of context or meaning. For instance, the triumvirate frets that "Iran has also begun installing IR-2m centrifuges, which are reportedly three to five times as productive in enriching uranium as the currently standard IR-1 models." They don't explain, of course, that these "new" centrifuges are second generation models, whose design dates back to the 1980s, and are meant to replace Iran's current equipment, which dates back to the 1970s. Also, these upgraded models are designed only to enrich up to 5% - far from weapons-grade. All equipment was reported in advance to the IAEA, was installed under IAEA supervision and remains under IAEA safeguard and inspection.
These three alarmist amigos even resort to talking points carried over from their days of lying about Iraq. "Iran could manufacture nuclear weapon components, or even assemble complete bombs, in small, secret facilities," they write, before citing instances when US intelligence has failed in the past when it comes to proliferation. They write of "how quickly China, India, North Korea, Pakistan and the Soviet Union obtained nuclear weapons" and even note Iraq in 1990 and 2002. What nuclear-armed, non-signatory to the NPT is missing from this litany? To answer that question is to comprehend the authors' prime motivation.
Netanyahu's three stooges then offer this assessment:
We estimate that Iran, on its current trajectory, will by mid-2014 be able to dash to fissile material in one to two weeks unless its production of 20%-enriched uranium is curtailed. If the number or efficiency of Iran's centrifuges unexpectedly increases, or if Tehran has a secret operational enrichment site, Tehran could reach critical capability before mid-2014."Once Tehran had enough 20% material for a bomb," they add, "it could produce enough weapons-grade uranium for that bomb in a week or two."
So, uh, what should the bullying West do about these made-up threats and decontextualized assumptions and speculations? "Given Iran's current course, the U.S. and its allies should immediately impose maximum pressure on Iran, including by intensifying economic sanctions," of course!
This absurd and pathetic script is all too familiar now and the actors in this manufactured drama - Albright, Dubowitz and Kittrie (and coterie of others) - are well-known. Luckily for them, the mainstream media - and especially the Wall Street Journal - is all too eager to give them a platform for their lies.
March 28, 2013 - A new Wall Street Journal opinion piece plumbs the depths of hysteria over Iran. In a piece hilariously titled "How Iran Could Get The Bomb Overnight," Edward Jay Epstein writes that all this hullabaloo about the Iranian nuclear program is irrelevant because, for Iran, making a bomb themselves - in the face of "diplomacy, sanctions and cybersabotage, and with the threat of military action" - is a drag, while "an easier and more immediately dangerous option is available: buying nuclear weapons from North Korea."
See? Negotiations, safeguards agreements, historical precedent and even basic facts are all useless because Iran might have a Pyongyang-based PayPal account.
He summarizes his inane thesis thusly:
By focusing on preventing Iran from manufacturing a nuke and relying on time to plan a pre-emptive strike, the U.S. may be neglecting Iran's far more dangerous option of buying the bomb. Stopping the delivery of a warheads shipment would not be easy. Not being ready to stop it could prove catastrophic.Epstein opines that "off-the-shelf weapons would leave virtually no window of opportunity for a pre-emptive attack by the West and its allies," even though no one in the history of atomic weaponry has ever sold a nuke to anyone else. Nevertheless, his fantasy proceeds: "The warheads could arrive in Iran on a plane in the middle of the night and be immediately fitted onto Iranian missiles."
Establishing with a fair degree of certainty that he is aware of the definition of deterrence, Epstein adds, "Iran would not have to actually use these missiles to have a deterrent."
Thanks for clearing that up, E.J.
March 29, 2013 - Following Obama's boot-licking visit to Israel, the Israeli press is back on the Netanyahu bullshit train. "Iran could have the capability to build a nuclear bomb by July, unnamed security sources said in a report published Friday," cries The Times of Israel today.
Following the totally unfounded claims that Iran and North Korea are in nuclear cahoots, these anonymous Israeli officials apparently decided to lay the hysteria on thick:
The security sources, said to be close to Netanyahu's talks with Obama, claimed that after seeing North Korea wield nuclear weapons despite heavy Western opposition, Tehran's leadership had also decided to break out toward the bomb, which could be ready between July and September.A murderous pace! Every day!
"The Iranians aren't messing around after North Korea. What Kim Jong Un has Ahmadinejad has," a source told the Israeli daily Maariv, referring to North Korea’s and Iran’s respective leaders. "At the end of 2012 the Iranians carried out a simulation of a nuclear explosion and since then have been advancing at a murderous pace every day."
One can only wonder if the alleged Iranian genocide gait is more like an stilted, ambling Leatherface or Michael Myers or closer to the frenzied scurrying of Chucky or the Leprechaun.
Or better yet, just ignore this stupid garbage altogether.
April 23, 2013 - Former Israeli Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin, who is currently the Director of the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, declared today that Iran is rapidly approaching the so-called "red line" of nuclear weapons capability and would reach the breakout point within two months.
"We are heading toward a collision course by the end of the year," Yadlin said, insisting that "Israel will, in fact, be the first to have to reach a decision. It is not party to the negotiations. At the Iranians' current rate of production, even to those who today are saying they won't cross the red line – there is no doubt that by the summer they will cross it."
Of course, there is not one intelligence agency on the planet that has assessed Iran has an active nuclear weapons program. Just last week, U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper reaffirmed the long-held conclusion that no decision has even been made by the Iranian government to pursue the development of a nuclear bomb and that any such move would be immediately detectable to the international community.
Speaking at an INSS event, Yadlin stated that Iran has already enriched enough uranium for "six bombs," yet apparently failed to point out not a single atom of such material has been enriched to anything close to weapons-grade and all of which remains under the safeguard, seal and surveillance of the IAEA. Yadlin was followed by a Russian analyst who suggested it would take Iran at least seven years to build an actual nuclear bomb.
April 28, 2013 - At the second annual Jerusalem Post Conference today in New York City, a number of former and current Israeli officials offered new estimates about Iran's nuclear progress, issued threats of war and pretended Israel is more powerful and militarily capable than it really is.
In other words, it was just another day of shameless and shameful Israeli propaganda; pathetic, jingoistic bluster meant to appeal to hawkish American donors, puff up Israel's inflated sense of self, and attempt to boost its already non-existent credibility.
Former IDF intel chief Amos Yadlin said, "Even though Iran is on the way to crossing the line of Netanyahu, that doesn't mean that they have the bomb," which might be the most tediously self-evident comment made in recent memory, despite also relying on fact-free speculation. He also said that Israel could weather the consequences of a potential unilateral military assault on the Islamic Republic, but that, before that happens, "we must give more time for the other strategies that nobody takes credit for," an apparent reference to Israeli-led covert murder operations and cyberwar.
Meanwhile, former IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi also told the mouth-breathing attendees that Israel can effectively attack Iran and sustain the inevitable blowback. "We cannot allow this regime to have the bomb," he said, before insisting that a recent multi-billion dollar U.S. arms sale to Israel "sends a signal" to Iran about Israel's military capabilities and intentions.
The best comments of the day, however, were made by Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz. Calling an Iran with an atomic arsenal "equal to 30 nuclear North Koreas," Steinitz's stand-up routine didn't disappoint. Not only was a "nuclear Iran" an "existential threat" to Israel, he said, it would also pose a "terrible threat" to all of the Middle East, Europe and the United States. Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, Africa, Australia and Antarctica would apparently be spared the devastating scourge, however.
"Iran is problem number one of our generation," Steinitz declared. He then launched into an embarrassingly long-winded and repetitive rant about how Iran is the new Nazi Germany, an analogy so stupid and played out that even its most ardent champion Netanyahu hasn't used it in a while. After praising Winston Churchill for his actions in the 1930s, Steinitz implicitly condemned other powers and political leaders for their follies and failures. "We shouldn't repeat the same mistakes again," he said, continuing:
This was Nazi Germany, a secular regime with a fanatical ideology. And here we are speaking about the Shiite Ayatollahs of Iran. Totally [religious] fanatical regime. There it was Europe, here it's Iran. The Nazis spoke about the final solution for the Jewish people in Europe. They [Iranian leaders] are speaking about destroying the Jewish State in the Middle East. There are some differences. We have to learn from history. And so it never repeats itself exactly. And if there's a lesson to learn from history, it's not to repeat the same mistake again. And not to allow, come what may, the nuclearization of Iran.He wasn't finished.
Once at full capacity, the Iranian nuclear program, he claimed, will be able to produce 20 to 30 nuclear bombs each year and somehow decided that, "if Iran gets the first few bombs, in a decade or so they will have 100 nuclear bombs."
This was "not an intelligence estimate," he was quick to note, but rather was based on statements by the Islamic Republic itself, which makes literally no sense since Iran has never once stated any intention to build or acquire a single nuclear weapon.
For good measure, Steinitz also tossed around phrases like “global ambitions" and "a new era of Islamic hegemony," because things like that - regardless of their stupidness - play well with ignorant, racist audiences like the one assembled Sunday at the Times Square Marriott.
Dismissing sanctions as insufficient "to achieve our goal," Steinitz demanded that "a very clear military threat" be made to Iran (ignore that this is an undeniable violation of the UN Charter), "a credible threat that will make it crystal clear that they are paying something for nothing."
"If there is a chance to resolve this problem without military action,” he said, it will only be because opponents of Tehran's nuclear program "choose a big enough stick and wave it in their faces."
April 29, 2013 - Benjamin Netanyahu today challenged his former Israeli Military Intelligence chief's recent comments that Iran may have already ostensibly crossed the Prime Minister's own absurd "red line."
In a meeting with his right-wing Likud-Beitenu faction on Monday, Netanyahu stated, "Iran is continuing with its nuclear program. It has yet to cross the red line I presented at the United Nations, but it is approaching it systematically."
"It must not be allowed to cross it," he added.
May 23, 2013 - The newest IAEA report on Iran's safeguarded nuclear program has hit the interwebs, thanks to leaker-in-chief and neocon shill David Albright. Its contents are, as usual, boilerplate stuff that we've all heard before, which is unsurprisingly receiving the hype treatment by the mainstream media and eager warmongers.
Notably, roughly two-thirds of all 20% LEU refined since the last quarterly report in February has been converted from UF6 to solid oxide, thus making it impossible to weaponize or further refine without first reconverting it to UF6 gas feedstock.
As always, the IAEA "continues to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material at the
nuclear facilities and LOFs declared by Iran under its Safeguards Agreement."
June 10, 2013 - Hilarious hysteric Yuval Steinitz, Israel's oxymoronic Intelligence Minister, is back with more of the same.
Speaking before the Foreign Press Association in Jerusalem, Steinitz insisted, "The Iranians are getting very close now to the red line... They have close to 200 kilos -- 190 kilos (418 pounds) -- of 20 percent enriched uranium."
He continued, "Once they have 250 kilos, this is enough to make the final rush to 90 percent," which is presumably the level at which enriched uranium can be weaponized, after which point, "It is a matter of weeks or maybe two months to jump from 20 percent to 90 percent with so many centrifuges," he said.
Inconvenient facts like the fact that Iran has no nuclear weapons program, has forsworn any intention or desire to acquire such an arsenal, has the single most scrutinized and monitored nuclear program on the planet, any attempted "breakout" to weaponization would be immediately detectable, and is not yet operating its slightly-newer generation of centrifuges
Still, Steinitz declared that "Iran is working round the clock to enlarge its nuclear infrastructure with the eventual aim of developing an industry capable of building up to 30 bombs a year," echoing his inane comments from April.
"Many people are saying it's a question of the Iranian bomb - whether they will have it or not. No," he declared, "We are speaking about an Iranian arsenal."
June 17, 2013 - Steinitz just can't stop. In response to the election of moderate cleric and former nuclear negotiator Hassan Rouhani as Iran's next president, the Israeli Foreign Minister told Army Radio that, even though "the results are a credit to the Iranian people," there would be no "change" in the Iranian nuclear program.
As such, he said, sanctions against Iran "must continue, regardless of the desire of the Iranian people for progress," since, after all, Iran is the new Nazi Germany and "only a year or less away from the nuclear red line."
July 15, 2013 - In an interview on "Face The Nation," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed that Iran is (still/snore) getting "closer and closer to the bomb."
"They're edging up to the red line," Netanyahu said. "They haven't crossed it yet. They're also building faster centrifuges that would enable them to jump the line, so to speak, at a much faster rate - that is, within a few weeks."
[For more on Netanyahu's grotesque CBS interview, see here.]
July 31, 2013 - Citing the latest hysterical analysis of Iran's nuclear program by the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), David Albright's Washington D.C.-based propaganda outfit, the Jerusalem Post exclaims that "Iran is expected to achieve a 'critical capability' to produce sufficient weapon-grade uranium by mid-2014, without being detected."
Thus, the alarmists of ISIS conclude that "IAEA inaction or caution could make an international response all but impossible before Iran has produced enough weapon-grade uranium for one or more nuclear weapon."
Meanwhile, a recent Al Monitor report exposes the agenda dripping from ISIS' analysis. Earlier this month, IAEA Deputy Director Herman Nackaerts explained to reporter Barbara Slavin that "'we would know within a week' whether Iran was diverting uranium from declared sites and seeking to enrich it to weapons grade level."
Nackaerts, who is also head of the IAEA's Department of Safeguards, said that "[t]here are two to six IAEA inspectors on the ground in Iran every day...covering 16 Iranian facilities. On average, he said, that means that an inspector visits Iran's enrichment plants at Natanz and Fordow once a week. If there are suspicions about any improper activities, they can go more often, he added.
In order to sufficiently hand-wring about the Iranian program, "ISIS has recommended that inspections should increase to at least twice per week at Iran's enrichment facilities."
|Evelyn Gordon. Yes, really.|
"Time is running out," Gordon declares, echoing so many uninformed voices before her. In March 2006, NPR's national security correspondent Mara Liasson insisted on Fox News that "[T]ime is running out. Pretty soon, Iran is going to have the bomb." By early 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton claimed, "We have time, but not a lot of time." The following year, Commentary Magazine's own Jonathan Tobin warned that, without the United States issuing an explicit military threat, "time may soon run out on any chance for the West to stop Iran," while this past March, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu eloquently stated that "whatever time is left, there's not a lot of time."
"In short," Gordon concludes, "either military action is taken in the coming months, or a nuclear Iran will be inevitable. There is no more time to waste."
In truth, it's time to hit the snooze button.
August 5, 2013 - One of the Wall Street Journal's resident Iran hysterics and consummate warmonger Jay Solomon offers up a lede today that should go down in history as one of the most shameless pieces of propaganda seen in a mainstream newspaper:
Iran could begin producing weapons-grade plutonium by next summer, U.S. and European officials believe, using a different nuclear technology that would be easier for foreign countries to attack.This single line, from an article with the spooky headline, "Iran Seen Trying New Path to a Bomb," not only implies the Netanyahu-approved shibboleth that Iran is actively (and clandestinely) seeking to develop a nuclear weapon, but also hints at a potential Israeli or American military attack on Iran without ever mentioning that such an action would be - incontrovertibly - a war crime.
Solomon, in his tireless efforts to paint Iran as intransigent and nefarious in order to persuade an ignorant readership that diplomacy is futile and violence the only option, suggests that this alleged, hypothetical and wholly speculative "second path to potentially producing a nuclear weapon could complicate international efforts to negotiate with Iran's new president, Hasan Rouhani, who was sworn in Sunday in Tehran." And, again, only two sentences after he first floated the potential for military action, repeats: "It also heightens the possibility of an Israeli strike, said U.S. and European officials."
And, yet again, just two sentences later, repeats essentially the same exact thing: "Now, the West is increasingly concerned Iran also could use the development of a heavy water nuclear reactor to produce plutonium for a bomb. A heavy-water reactor is an easier target to hit than the underground facilities that house Iran's uranium-enrichment facilities."
Solomon's "report" constantly cites "U.S. and European officials" as its unnamed sources for these oh-so-alarming revelations, sometimes throwing in the undefined term "U.N. officials" for variety. The tangential and circumstantial reasoning behind this manufactured hype is pathetic. Writes Solomon, "A reactor like the one under construction is capable of using the uranium fuel to produce 40 megawatts of power. Spent fuel from it contains plutonium—which, like enriched uranium, can serve as the raw material for an explosive device. India and Pakistan have built plutonium-based bombs, as has North Korea." Ergo, bombs away!
"The Arak facility, when completed, will be capable of producing two nuclear bombs' worth of plutonium a year," Solomon writes, crediting "U.S. and U.N. officials" for the assessment. Just two months ago, it as said that, in theory, "Arak would potentially be able to produce one bomb's worth of weapons-grade plutonium a year."
In truth, the facility at Arak is years away from becoming operational and no decision has been made (nor is it likely ever to be made) by the Iranian leadership to weaponize its civilian nuclear program, thereby making any such predictions totally irrelevant.
Earlier this year, the Telegraph, Associated Press and Reuters all published nearly identical reports on the potential of the heavy-water plant at Arak becoming a proliferation risk and raising the possibility of an Israeli attack. For instance, an anonymous "Western diplomat in Vienna" told Reuters in early June, "The concern about that plutonium route and the Arak site has got much stronger. I think it is another red line."
Unsurprisingly, none of the reports amounted to anything but hysteria. The Telegraph's report, from February 26, 2013, even admitted (far down towards the end of its report) that Iran "still lacks the technology to reprocess plutonium and use it for a weapon."
It also featured Mark Fitzpatrick - think tank pundit and permanent fixture in mainstream media articles on the Iranian nuclear program - warning that any attack on Arak would have to occur before it becomes operational due to the catastrophic consequences of bombing an active nuclear facility. Because "the option of a military strike on an operating reactor would present enormous complications because of the radiation that would be spread," Fitzpatrick told the Telegraph, "Some think Israel's red line for military action is before Arak comes online."
Similarly, in the new Wall Street Journal version, Solomon writes, "Any Israeli strike on the reactor complex, said current and former U.S. officials, would likely have to take place before Tehran introduces nuclear materials into the facility, because of the potential for a vast environmental disaster a strike could cause."
What breaking news!
Buried at the end of this latest propaganda piece, after myriad misleading statements about UN Security Council resolutions, Israeli military capabilities, and Iranian obligations under international law, Solomon quotes go-to nuclear alarmist Olli Heinonen, a former high-level IAEA official, as saying, "There is a good possibility that [the reactor] can reach its first nuclear criticality by the end of 2014."
"However," Heinonen adds, in a conclusion that undermines the entire tenor and tone of Solomon's article up to that point, "no significant quantity of plutonium should be available for actual extraction before 2016."
Beyond this, Solomon cites "U.N. officials" (whatever that means) as claiming that Iran has "significantly restricted the IAEA's ability to inspect the reactor and its development plans." He deliberately omits this tidbit of information, reported by Bloomberg News back on June 6, 2013: "Iran encouraged United Nations nuclear monitors to use powerful new detection technologies to dispel international concern that the Persian Gulf country is seeking to build atomic weapons."
"We always welcome the agency to have more sophisticated equipment, to have more accuracy in their measurements, so that technical matters will not be politicized," Iranian Ambassador to the IAEA Ali Asghar Soltanieh told the press in Vienna at the time, adding that Iran "won't object to IAEA monitors using new technologies to determine whether plutonium is being extracted from spent fuel at its new reactor in Arak."
Solomon's report, which surely will be seized upon by an endless parade of disingenuous warmongers and professional liars as proof that Iran must be bombed posthaste, is as embarrassingly transparent as they come.
August 8, 2013 - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has continued his endless efforts to undermine any potential opening for diplomacy that may lower tensions between the United States and Iran and has again claimed that Iran is getting closer to building an imaginary nuclear bomb that all intelligence agencies on the planet assess it's not building.
Insisting his oft-repeated talking point that Iran's new president, former nuclear negotiator Hassan Rouhani, "knows how to exploit" Western hopes for renewed talks over Iran's nuclear program, Netanyahu claimed, "Of course he wants more talks. He wants to talk and talk and talk. And while everybody is busy talking to him, he'll be busy enriching uranium. The centrifuges will keep on spinning."
Netanyahu's comments, reported by settler-run Israeli news site Arutz Sheva and made "during a meeting with a delegation of pro-Israel activists headed by U.S. Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI)" are designed specifically to cast Rouhani as a manipulative Oriental, untrustworthy and devious. "He says, 'I talk and I smile and I enrich uranium'," claimed Netanyahu.
Netanyahu, citing a recent hysterical report in the Wall Street Journal, added, "Iran's work and quest towards the achievement of atomic weapons not only continues, it continues unabated - it's actually accelerated. And they're also pursuing, as was recently reported, an alternative route to the enrichment of uranium, which is the plutogenic, the plutonium route, simultaneously. So the situation unhappily is not getting any better; it's actually getting worse. Iran is determined to get the bomb and we must be even more determined to prevent them from getting it."
In a recent interview, Yuval Steinitz - one of Netanyahu's closest advisors and obsequious propagandists - said, "Rouhani is charming, he is cunning, and he will smile all the way to the bomb," before insisting that Iranian leaders be given an ultimatum: voluntarily dismantle all aspects of its legal, safeguarded nuclear program, including enrichment facilities, or "see it destroyed with brute force" in a military assault he described as "a few hours of airstrikes, no more."
Steinitz dismissed as inconsequential any retaliatory measures taken by Iran if such an attack were to occur. He imagined Iran firing "several hundred missiles" at Israel, but said they would only cause "very limited damage because we can intercept many of them."
Just days earlier, on Tuesday August 6, Netanyahu told a visiting delegation of 36 U.S. Congress members, “Iran's president said that pressure will not help to dissuade him from developing nuclear weapons," which isn't even remotely true considering Rouhani has never once claimed Iran is interested in developing, manufacturing or acquiring nuclear weapons. Additionally, over the past three decades, no credible evidence has ever been presented to demonstrate that Iran has ever moved in this direction.
Nevertheless, Netanyahu said, "But we see that over the past two decades, the only thing that has helped has been pressure,” and warning the assembled Congress members, “I have said it before, and I will say it again, because it's important that it be understood. If the pressure on Iran is lifted, it will go ahead with developing nuclear weapons.”
The Congressional trip was organized by the American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF), an AIPAC-affiliated, Israeli propaganda group, and was led by Representative Steny Hoyer.
August 9, 2013 - As predicted, tautologies based upon the speculative allegation that Iran is "pursuing a parallel track to a nuclear capability through the production of plutonium" are rapidly proliferating, just in case a deal is struck between Iran and the United States that alleviates concerns over Iran's enrichment of uranium.
In an opinion piece in the New York Times, master-alarmist Amos Yadlin, former head of Israeli Military Intelligence and current director of Israel's Institute for National Security Studies, repeats the tired talking points that we've heard again and again by now.
In an article entitled, "Iran's Plan B for the Bomb" - a headline swiped almost verbatim from the Telegraph's February 26 report called "Iran's 'Plan B' for a Nuclear Bomb" about the same exact thing - Yadlin and a colleague writes that, according to the IAEA, "Iran already has enough low-enriched uranium to produce several nuclear bombs if it chooses to further enrich the fuel," adding that "Western experts like Graham T. Allison Jr. and Olli Heinonen estimate that if Iran decided to develop a bomb today, it could do so within three to five months."
Yadlin also cites a recent ISIS study, which "estimates that at the current pace of installation, Iran could reduce its breakout time to just one month by the end of this year. The report also estimates that at that pace, by mid-2014 Iran could reduce the breakout time to less than two weeks."
Using the recent overwrought reporting on Iran's nascent Arak reactor, Yadlin explains, "Some American and European officials claim that Iran could produce weapons-grade plutonium next summer" which he says means "Iran is making progress on this alternative track." Yadlin goes on:
A functioning nuclear reactor in Arak could eventually allow Iran to produce sufficient quantities of plutonium for nuclear bombs. Although Iran would need to build a reprocessing facility to separate the plutonium from the uranium in order to produce a bomb, that should not be the West’s primary concern. Western negotiators should instead demand that Iran shut down the Arak reactor.Hilariously, Yadlin then proceeds to try and justify the cause for concern, writing without irony, "Of the three countries that have publicly crossed the nuclear threshold since the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty entered into force in 1970, two — India and North Korea — did so via the plutonium track."
Catch the operative word there? Publicly.
Everyone knows that Israel crossed that very same threshold decades before India, Pakistan or North Korea. Yadlin is also clever enough to note 1970 as the beginning of his timeline, since Israel already had a fully-functional, undeclared nuclear weapons program by the late 1960s - a program still unacknowledged and unmonitored.
Yadlin concludes by demanding the United States continue its useless policy of "sanctions and a credible military threat" and warns that the "moderate messages" emanating from the Iranian leadership since the June election of Hasan Rouhani "should not be allowed to camouflage Iran's continuing progress toward a bomb."
For Israeli officials past and present, the lies never stop.
September 6, 2013 - In his seemingly never-ending quest to replace David Albright as the War Lobby's foremost nuclear propagandist, Olli Heinonen has joined forces with Simon Henderson of the pro-Israel, AIPAC-affiliated, neoconservative Washington Institute to issue a new warning about Iranian nuclear capabilities.
Reacting to a new IAEA report on the Iranian nuclear program, Heinonen and Henderson fret about Iran's supposed "growing potential to dash toward a bomb," if it chooses to do so.
Of course, less agenda-driven analysis tells a different story when honestly assessing the new report. Despite the hysterical hand-wringing of the WINEP authors, Iran has continued to convert its stockpile of 19.75% enriched uranium to powder form which can not be weaponized.
Iran is also not currently using the roughly 1,000 second-generation centrifuges it has installed in its Natanz facility. The heavy water reactor at Arak is also not operational and its start-up date has again been delayed. The site is also under IAEA safeguards and Iran has affirmed it will notify the IAEA "at least six months prior to the first introduction of nuclear material into the facility."
Yet Heinonen and Henderson worry that the reactor at Arak might come online before the United States or Israel have a chance to bomb it. Bummer.
While the WINEP analysis seeks to exploit worst-case scenarios based upon hypothetical circumstances with little relation to reality, Kelsey Davenport and Daryl Kimball of the Arms Control Association have already addressed these disingenuous arguments.
Most other experts and U.S. and Western intelligence agencies, however, understand that even if Iran had enough fissile material for a bomb, it would have to design a warhead, fashion the uranium hexafluoride gas into the metallic form needed for the warhead, and possibly conduct an explosive test of that design to assure its reliability.
Therefore, Iran would require, not a few weeks, but many months to build a nuclear weapon and more time to build a deliverable arsenal.They add that, even if Iran were to accumulate "enough 20%-enriched uranium to make a bomb, it would still take at least two months to enrich it further to weapons grade. If Iran started immediately enriching toward weapons grade from its existing 3.5%-enriched stockpiles, it would take several months to accumulate enough for a single bomb using its existing IR-1 centrifuge set-up."
But this actually isn't all that concerning - beyond the fact that it's based on a fantasy that Iran seeks to build a bomb - because, Davenport and Kimball remind us, "Iran’s uranium enrichment facilities and uranium stockpiles are regularly monitored by the IAEA — at least once a month and in some cases more often — it would be very likely that any diversion of nuclear material for further enrichment would be detected long before it could be used to build a weapon."
Therefore, even if Iran were to hypothetically "move toward building nuclear weapons, it would need to expel IAEA inspectors, use existing facilities and stockpiles to produce weapons grade uranium, and probably test a nuclear device, all of which would raise the alarm to the international community."
So how do Heinonen and Henderson deal with this inconvenient information? This way:
The assumption is that Iran cannot break out and produce sufficient nuclear explosive for a weapon without the international community having time to spot what is going on, debate it, and counter it. Yet President Obama's delay on Syria creates doubt that he would behave in a sufficiently timely fashion to counter Iran.Yes, really. Regardless of the vast differences between the bloody civil war in Syria and the legal, safeguarded nuclear program in a stable Iran, for those with the interests of the Israeli right-wing closest at heart, it all boils down to the willingness of an American president to drop bombs on some brown people to send a message to other brown people.
Because Obama didn't ignore international law and commit war crimes in Syria, he might not be willing to do the same in Iran. And that - to these "experts" - is a bad thing.
December 31, 2013 - An extensive update covering the past four months of new predictions can be found here:
Panic, Predictions and Propaganda: Endless Empty Estimates on Iran's Nuclear Program
Happy New Year.
December 31, 2014 - Another year, another update:
Prognostications, Predictions & Prophecies: Another Year of Alarmism About Iran's Nuclear Program
Happy New Year.