Thursday, March 8, 2012

ISIS's David Albright: Career Alarmist Extraordinaire


David Albright has never been content simply delivering alarmist soundbites to every Beltway reporter that has him on speed-dial (which seems to be most of them); rather, he seems worried that all the recent airtime and column space finally occupied by rational advocates of dialogue and diplomacy (as opposed to cheerleading bomb threats, international terrorism, and economic warfare) might just influence the American public not to support an illegal assault on another foreign country that doesn't eagerly kowtow to American and Israeli demands.

That establishment officials and journalists from Michael Cohen to Robert Kelley, Hans Blix, Thomas Ricks, Leslie Gelb to Paul Pillar, Adam B. Lowther to Dan Drezner, Stephen Walt to Barry Posen, Colin Kahl to Roger Cohen, Alexandre Debs and Nuno P. Monteiro to William Luers and Thomas Pickering, Leon Panetta, James Clapper, Ronald Burgess, and even Barack Obama to a certain extent have all been challenging the neocon and AIPAC narrative of an Iran "hell-bent" on nuclear weapons seems to really be ruffling Albright's feathers.

A fear-mongering ISIS report from January 18, 2012 (spookily entitled "Reality Check: Shorter and Shorter Timeframe if Iran Decides to Make Nuclear Weapons") introduced a new fabulously Orwellian term: "nuclear hedging."  How ominous!

Albright and crew wrote that "Iran's strategy of 'nuclear hedging,' or developing the capability to rapidly build nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian nuclear program, is laid out in the evidence of work on nuclear weaponization, particularly efforts to make specific nuclear components, contained in the November 2011 International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards report on Iran."

While there is no need to rehash all the back-and-forth over the actual conclusions and implications of the widely-discussed (and undoubtedly politicized) IAEA report which Albright himself leaked to the public in November, it is important to note every one is his assertions is speculative and is not actually backed up by real evidence, other than cryptic documents from a mysterious laptop of dubious origin and authenticity, unveiled years ago through a collaboration of the United States, Israel and their terror-cult allies in the MEK.

Albright's claim that Iran has gone to great lengths to "both conceal major elements of its enrichment program, such as the originally undeclared Natanz, Kalaye Electric, and Fordow enrichment facilities, and establish controversial capabilities, such as its 19.75 percent low enriched uranium (LEU) production program" is dishonest.

In February 2003, after Iran announced officially the existence of the Natanz facility (which it did within the timeframe mandated by Iran's Safeguard Agreement with the IAEA, specifically, no later than 180 days before the site becomes operational), a spokeswoman for the IAEA confirmed, "This comes as no surprise to us, as we have been aware of this uranium exploration project for several years now. In fact, a senior IAEA official visited this mine in 1992. And the Iranians announced to us officially in September their plans to develop an ambitious nuclear power program that would include the entire nuclear fuel cycle."

Furthermore, much ado was made about Iran's Fordow facility near Qom, which was supposedly "revealed" to the world by Barack Obama last September. In reality, though, Iran had already announced this site to the IAEA earlier that week. IAEA spokesman Marc Vidricaire said, "I can confirm that on 21 September, Iran informed the IAEA in a letter that a new pilot fuel enrichment plant is under construction in the country." Obama's revelatory press conference was held on September 25th.

Albright knows full well that the establishment of 19.75% LEU production for medical isotopes has been conducted under a full IAEA safeguards regime.  Nevertheless, he calls these activities - under 24-hour surveillance and subject to surprise inspections - "controversial."  What's so "controversial" about a country seeking self-sufficiency and technological progress in the face of constant obstruction and denial of open-market resources by NPT signatories who are legally bound to aid Iran's nuclear program, not sabotage it, escapes me.

And now, coinciding with the heightened bellicosity and shameless propaganda of last week's AIPAC Conference, Albright and pals released their latest assessment on March 5, 2012.  It is outlandishly called "Preventing Iran From Getting Nuclear Weapons: Constraining Its Future Nuclear Options" and is utterly filled to the brim with speculative absurdities based in nothing more than pure fantasy.

Here's how the report begins: "Without past negotiated outcomes, international pressure, sanctions, and intelligence operations, Iran would likely have nuclear weapons by now."  Well, not if they haven't been trying to build nuclear weapons, that is - a possibility (consistent with every single shred of existing evidence and backed up by all available Western intelligence) that never seems to dawn on Albright and his minions.  The report constantly states things like this:

Iran is already capable of making weapon-grade uranium and a crude nuclear explosive device. Nonetheless, Iran is unlikely to break out in 2012, in large part because it will remain deterred from doing so and limited in its options for quickly making enough weapon-grade uranium.

There are endless mentions of the "complex set of international actions that constrain its nuclear options" and "heightening barriers against Iran achieving its nuclear objectives."  The "options" and "objectives" are assumed to be a nuclear bomb - again, a claim unsupported by fact.

The report describes efforts focused on "delaying Iran’s ability to make nuclear weapons and creating significant deterrence against it building nuclear weapons today," warns of "a wide range of future options that Iran may use during the next several years to build nuclear weapons," suggests that "Iran could develop more options to acquire nuclear weapons in the coming years unless it is further constrained or the probabilities of these futures occurring are lowered further," and concludes that "despite the existing constraints, however, Iran may decide that at some point obtaining nuclear weapons is worth the risks."

Albright insists that "the United States and its allies should reject any Iranian effort to trade interim measures for a reduction in sanctions or commitments not to add national or regional sanctions," declaring further that "the international community must be prepared to signal for years if necessary that an Iran that seeks nuclear weapons will never be integrated. It must not acquiesce to Iran’s current trajectory or give up on sanctions and other measures while accepting the current level of ambiguity over Iran’s nuclear weapons aspirations."

Albright's obsession and agenda is evident in his organization's publication of roughly 170 reports, analysis and articles on the Iran since 1992.  In about the same time, ISIS has produced only four reports on Israel's unmonitored nuclear infrastructure and stockpile of hundreds of nuclear weapons.

All in all, this new ISIS report is just like the rest: a giant piece of propaganda masquerading as disinterested and objective analysis.  It is anything but.  Albright is once again proving himself to be a career warmonger and nuclear alarmist, endless quoted in the mainstream press in order to lend a bogus air of credibility to the push for more and more sanctions, threats, and violence against Iran.

Here's a quick review of some of Albright's Iraq alarmism:

On September 10, 2002, David Albright and his ISIS colleague Corey Hinderstein wrote that "[h]igh-resolution commercial satellite imagery shows an apparently operational facility at the site of Iraq's al Qaim phosphate plant and uranium extraction facility (Unit-340), located in northwest Iraq near the Syrian border" and determined, "Unless inspectors go to the site and investigate all activities, the international community cannot exclude the possibility that Iraq is secretly producing a stockpile of uranium in violation of its commitments under Security Council resolutions. The uranium could be used in a clandestine nuclear weapons effort."

On October 5, 2002, Albright wondered on CNN, "In terms of the chemical and biological weapons, Iraq has those now. How many, how could they deliver them? I mean, these are the big questions."

On April 20, 2003, David Albright of ISIS, despite being a source of many of the pre-invasion claims about Iraq's nuclear program, told the Los Angeles Times, "If there are no weapons of mass destruction, I'll be mad as hell. I certainly accepted the administration claims on chemical and biological weapons. I figured they were telling the truth. If there is no [unconventional weapons program], I will feel taken, because they asserted these things with such assurance."

Albright's Iraq projections having been dashed, he appeared in October 2003 to have become a bit more skeptical, telling the San Francisco Chronicle, 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." 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."

Nevertheless, Albright was soon back to his old ways.  He was quoted in The Australian on September 26, 2011 as saying, "We believe if Iran broke out now they could have a bomb in six months," adding, "They've done this right in front of our faces."

With this latest report, Albright's agenda is clear and his hysteria transparent.

*****

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