Jeffrey Goldberg is confident in Barack Obama's oft-stated commitment to stop Iran from building the nuclear weapon that everyone, including his own intelligence agencies (and others) and Defense Secretary know it isn't building. Why? Well, basically because Obama's said so. A lot.
Explaining that anyone who doesn't recognize that Obama has "promised to do 'whatever it takes' to prevent Iran from crossing the nuclear threshold...hasn't been listening," Goldberg wrote last week that he takes the American President "at his word, in part because he's repeated himself on the subject so many times and in part because he has laid out such an effective argument against containment and for disruption, by force, if necessary."
That Goldberg trusts Obama's seriousness comes as no surprise considering what Goldberg wrote on June 6, 2011 in a dazzlingly alarmist (and factually-lacking) article for Bloomberg entitled "Iran Wants the Bomb, and It's Well on Its Way." "I believe firmly, after two years of reporting on the Iranian nuclear program," Goldberg declared, "that President Barack Obama would order air strikes if he thought Iran was moving definitively to become a nuclear-armed state."
To better illustrate his point, Goldberg enlisted the aid of his trusty, colleague Armin Rosen to track down a litany of Obama's statements from the past four years that demonstrate a consistent commitment to using "military force to prevent Iran from getting the bomb." The catalog of twenty quotations (admittedly only "a partial accounting of Obama's statements on the subject") is effective and yes, Obama has been consistent.
So if consistency and repetition are what make Jeffrey Goldberg believe what Obama says - what he terms as a "crystal-clear promise" - about preventing an imaginary Iranian bomb, wouldn't it logically follow that the constantly repeated statements by senior Iranian officials regarding their own promise never to obtain such a diabolical and destructive device would hold similar sway?
Clearly that's too much to ask.
Goldberg has written for years now that Iran "is on the verge of gaining the technology to detonate nukes" and that the "Iranian mullahs...want the nukes because they expect the apocalypse." As far back as 2006, he insisted, "It's time we took their views seriously."
So what are the Iranian leadership's repeatedly stated views on nuclear weapons that should be taken so seriously?
Using the Goldberg format and culling statements from the past two decades, here goes:
Iranian Vice President and head of the Atomic Energy Organization Reza Amrollahi, August 3, 1991: ''Iran is not capable of making atomic bombs...Our objective in promoting nuclear industries is merely its peaceful use specially in the field of atomic energy and its application in agriculture and medicine.'' (IRNA, BBC Summary of World Broadcasts)
Senior adviser to Khamenei and National Security Council member Mohammad Javad Larijani, September 18, 1991: "[Acquiring nuclear capability has been] erased from Iran's policy."
IAEO head Amrollahi, November 6, 1991: "Iran is not after nuclear arms. On the contrary, it believes that such lethal arms in the region should be destroyed...We are ready for any type of cooperation for establishing a region free of mass-destruction weapons...Iran, as a member of the IAEA, is committed to the regulations for the inspections of the nuclear installations, and naturally respects them." (IRNA, BBC Summary of World Broadcasts)
IAEO head Amrollahi, February 9, 1992: "We have never had nor will ever have other intentions" [than using nuclear equipment for peace purposes].
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Mohammad Besharati, November 27, 1992: "We have no need for nuclear weapons." Besharati also described allegations that Iran was planning to acquire nuclear weapons as "a lie and a plot."
Iranian Vice President for Economic Affairs Mohsen Nurbakhsh, September 29, 1993: "Iran will not seek to acquire weapons of mass destruction under any circumstances."
Iranian President Rafsanjani, March 23, 1997: "We're not after nuclear bombs and we won't go after biological and chemical weapons."
Iranian President Seyyed Mohammad Khatami, January 7, 1998: "We are not planning on building nuclear weapons and only aim to employ nuclear energy for peaceful purposes...We are not a nuclear [-armed] power and do not intend to become one."
President Khatami, September 21, 1998: "[The world should] be liberated from the nightmare of nuclear war and weapons of mass destruction...the idea of attaining security through the acquisition of such armaments is nothing but an illusion."
Iranian Supreme National Security Council chief and top presidential advisor Hassan Rohani, September 2002: "When we have signed international treaties, it means we are not pursuing making nuclear weapons. We are not pursuing making chemical weapons. We are not pursuing making biological weapons. Iran is not interested in any of these."
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei, March 21, 2003: "The statement that the Islamic Republic wants to obtain chemical weapons and the atomic bomb is totally false...[W]e are not interested in an atomic bomb. We are opposed to chemical weapons. When Iraq was using chemical weapons against us we refused to produce chemical weapons. These things are against our principles."
President Khatami, September 15, 2003: "[N]ot only are we not aiming to produce weapons of mass destruction, but we want the region and the world to be free of weapons of mass destruction...We don't need atomic bombs, and based on our religious teaching we will not pursue them. But at the same time we want to be strong, and being strong means having knowledge and technology."
Statement by the Iranian Government and Visiting EU Foreign Ministers, October 21, 2003: "The Iranian authorities reaffirmed that nuclear weapons have no place in Iran's defence doctrine and that its nuclear programme and activities have been exclusively in the peaceful domain. They reiterated Iran's commitment to the nuclear non-proliferation regime..."
Iranian Foreign Minister Seyed Kamal Kharazi, February 13, 2004: "Basically, we do not think that a nuclear weapon is going to bring us more security. It is not part of our doctrine."
Iranian Supreme National Security Council official Hussein Musavian, September 12, 2004: "The religious verdict of our leader is that using mass destruction weapons is forbidden, is haram."
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Assefi, September 12, 2004: "We believe that the use of nuclear weapons is religiously forbidden. This is the leader's fatwa."
Iranian Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations Javad Zarif, November 5, 2004: "[Iran has] serious ideological restrictions against weapons of mass destruction, including a religious decree issued by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, prohibiting the development and use of nuclear weapons."
Former President Rafsanjani, December 5, 2004: "I absolutely offer the world the assurance that Tehran is not after nuclear arms but will not forsake its absolute right [to peaceful nuclear energy]."
Foreign Minister Kharazi, February 14, 2005: "Tehran's use of uranium enrichment is not used to make nuclear weapons...Iran has been always pushing for the elimination of nuclear weapons. Basically this means that it is forbidden based on our ideology, based on our Islamic thinking it is forbidden to produce and use nuclear weapons as well as other weapons of mass destruction."
Iranian nuclear negotiator Sirus Naseri, August 10, 2005: "The Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has issued the fatwa that the production, stockpiling, and use of nuclear weapons are forbidden under Islam and that the Islamic Republic of Iran shall never acquire these weapons. President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, who took office just recently, in his inaugural address reiterated that his government is against weapons of mass destruction and will only pursue nuclear activities in the peaceful domain...The leadership of Iran has pledged at the highest level that Iran will remain a non-nuclear-weapon state party to the NPT."
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, September 17, 2005: "[Iran's] previously and repeatedly declared position [is] that in accordance with our religious principles, pursuit of nuclear weapons is prohibited."
UN Ambassador Javad Zarif, April 6, 2006: "Iran's reliance on the nonproliferation regime is based on legal commitments, sober strategic calculations and spiritual and ideological doctrine. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the leader of the Islamic Republic, has issued a decree against the development, production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons."
Ayatollah Khamenei, June 4, 2006: "We do not need a nuclear bomb. We do not have any objectives or aspirations for which we will need to use a nuclear bomb. We consider using nuclear weapons against Islamic rules. We have announced this openly. We think imposing the costs of building and maintaining nuclear weapons on our nation is unnecessary."
President Ahmadinejad, August 2006: "Nuclear weapons have no place in Iran's defense doctrine and Iran is not a threat to any country."
President Ahmadinejad, August 2006: "Basically we are not looking for - working for the bomb...The time of the bomb is in the past."
President Ahmadinejad September 20, 2006: "You must know that, because of our beliefs and our religion...[w]e are against the atomic bomb."
UN Ambassador Javad Zarif, December 23, 2006: "[Iran has] categorically rejected development, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons on ideological and strategic grounds...The Islamic Republic of Iran firmly believes that the days of weapons of mass murder have long passed; that these inhumane instruments of indiscriminate slaughter have not brought internal stability or external security for anyone and they will not be able to do so in the future."
President Ahmadinejad, September 20, 2007: "I want to address all politicians around the world, statesmen. Any party who uses national revenues to make a bomb, a nuclear bomb, will make a mistake. Because in political relations right now, the nuclear bomb is of no use....we don't need such weapons. In fact, we think that this is inhuman."
President Ahmadinejad, September 25, 2007: "Making nuclear, chemical and biological bombs and weapons of mass destruction is yet another result of the misuse of science and research by the big powers...We do not believe in nuclear weapons, period. It goes against the whole grain of humanity."
President Ahmadinejad, September 27, 2007: "We've said many times before, we don't need the weapon. It's not enshrined in our defense doctrine, nuclear defense. And ideologically, we don't believe in it either. We have actually rejected it on an ideological basis. And politically, we know that it is useless."
President Ahmadinejad, August 22, 2008: "We want nuclear disarmament [for all countries]...and we consider it to be against humanity to manufacture nuclear weapons...we oppose that strongly...Our position is very clear...We believe that a nuclear weapon has no use, obsolete. Anyone who has a nuclear weapons does not create any political advantage for themselves."
President Ahmadinejad, September 23, 2008: "We believe, as a matter of religious teaching, that we must be against any form of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons. The production and the usage of nuclear weapons is one of the most abhorrent acts to our eyes...The time for a nuclear bomb has ended. Whoever who invests in it is going the wrong way."
Ayatollah Khamenei, June 4, 2009: "Our nation says that it seeks to achieve nuclear technology and that it seeks to have the capability to use nuclear energy for peaceful, civilian purposes. They say that the Iranian nation is trying to develop a nuclear bomb. Why do they tell these lies?...On numerous occasions, the Iranian people and government officials have announced that they do not seek to develop nuclear weapons and that nuclear weapons have no place in the needs of the nation and the military system of the country. We announced that it is haraam and prohibited to use nuclear weapons from an Islamic point of view and that having such weapons causes a great danger and needless trouble. We are not after nuclear weapons, and neither do we wish to have them. Even if they paid money and told us to develop a nuclear weapon, our nation and officials would not do so."
President Ahmadinejad, September 17, 2009: "We don't have such a need for nuclear weapons. We don't need nuclear weapons. Without such weapons, we are very much able to defend ourselves...It's not a part of our any – of our programs and plans."
Ayatollah Khamenei, September 20, 2009: "We fundamentally reject nuclear weapons and prohibit the use and production of nuclear weapons. This is because of our ideology, not because of politics or fear of arrogant powers or an onslaught of international propaganda. We stand firm for our ideology."
President Ahmadinejad, December 18, 2009: "[W]e do not want to make a bomb...Our policy is transparent. If we wanted to make a bomb we would be brave enough to say so. When we say that we are not making one, we are not. We do not believe in it."
Ayatollah Khamenei, February 19, 2010: "[W]e have often said that our religious tenets and beliefs consider these kinds of weapons of mass destruction to be symbols of genocide and are, therefore, forbidden and considered to be haram...This is why we do not believe in atomic bombs and weapons and do not seek them."
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, April 7, 2010: "Iran does not believe in nuclear weapons nor does it need one...Iran believes that the era of nuclear weapons is over. These weapons are not even of use to those who possess them."
Head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi, April 13, 2010: "No, [we are not trying to make a nuclear weapon]. We have indicated this…many times. Not me -- our President, our Supreme Leader. It's against our tenets. It's against our religion."
Ayatollah Khamenei, April 17, 2010: "Any use of or even threat to use nuclear weapons is a serious and material violation of indisputable rules of humanitarian law and a cogent example of a war crime...We regard the use of these weapons to be illegal and haram, and it is incumbent on all to protect humankind from this grave disaster."
President Ahmadinejad, May 3, 2010: "The nuclear bomb is a fire against humanity rather than a weapon for defense...The possession of nuclear bombs is not a source of pride; it is rather disgusting and shameful. And even more shameful is the threat to use or to use such weapons, which is not even comparable to any crime committed throughout the history."
President Ahmadinejad, May 3, 2010: "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...So when we say we don't want it, we don't want it."
Iranian Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations Mohammad Khazaee, June 9, 2010: "Iran as a victim of the use of weapons of mass destruction in recent history has rejected and opposed the development and use of all these inhuman weapons on religious as well as security grounds."
Iranian Parliament (Majlis) Speaker Ali Larijani, July 23, 2010: "[B]eing a nuclear power does not mean that we are going to make a bomb."
President Ahmadinejad, September 22, 2010: "We are not seeking the bomb. We have no interest in it. And we do not think that it is useful. We are standing firm over the issue that both the Zionist regime and the United States government should be disarmed."
President Ahmadinejad, September 23, 2010: "The nuclear bomb is the worst inhumane weapon and which must totally be eliminated."
Iranian Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency Ali Asghar Soltanieh, November 2, 2010: "Tehran can not compete in terms of the numbers of warheads possessed by the nuclear-armed major powers, so if it seeks to produce nuclear weapons, it will be placed in a disadvantageous position compared with these countries...[Iran will not make such a] strategic mistake."
Ayatollah Khamenei, December 22, 2010: "We don't have any belief in the atomic bomb and don't pursue it. Our religious principles and beliefs forbid the acquisition and use of such weapons of mass murder. We consider such weapons to be a symbol of destruction."
President Ahmadinejad, August 4, 2011: "When we say we don't have any intention to build a bomb, we're honest and sincere. We believe that today if someone wants to build a bomb he's crazy and insane...An atomic bomb is against all humans."
President Ahmadinejad, August 14, 2011: "Never, never. We do not want nuclear weapons. We do not seek nuclear weapons. This is an inhumane weapon. Because of our beliefs we are against that. Firstly, our religion says it is prohibited. We are a religious people. Secondly, nuclear weapons have no capability today. If any country tries to build a nuclear bomb, they in fact waste their money and resources and they create great danger for themselves."
President Ahmadinejad, September 13, 2011: "When we say we are not going to build nuclear weapons, we mean it. Because we consider it an evil thing and we do not need those items."
President Ahmadinejad, September 20, 2011: "I've said many times we don't want a bomb and we are against any nuclear bombs."
President Ahmadinejad, September 22, 2011: "We are not seeking the weapon. We are not seeking the nuclear weapon."
President Ahmadinejad, November 9, 2011: "The Iranian nation is wise. It won't build two [nuclear] bombs against the 20,000 you have. But it builds something you can't respond to: ethics, decency, monotheism and justice."
Senior adviser to Khamenei Mohammad Javad Larijani, November 18, 2011: "[Iran seeks] advancement in science and technology related to nuclear area, not directed toward the weapon area...We are a signatory of NPT, we are a sincere signatory to the NPT. We think non-proliferation is a benefit of Iran and all of us...We are an advocate of a Middle East free of nuclear weapons."
Guardian Council Chairman Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, November 25, 2011: "The Islamic Republic of Iran does not need nuclear arms...[but] will not relinquish its peaceful and civilian nuclear activities."
Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani, January 12, 2012: "We are not after nuclear weapons. We do not find nuclear weapons right from a religious perspective."
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, January 30, 2012: "Iran is never, ever after nuclear weapons."
Ayatollah Khamenei, February 22, 2012: "The Iranian nation has never sought and will never seek nuclear weapons...Iran does not seek nuclear weapons since the Islamic Republic of Iran regards the possession of nuclear weapons as a great sin, in terms of thought, theory and religious edict, and also believes that holding such weapons is useless, costly and dangerous."
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, February 28, 2012: "[Nuclear weapons are] immoral and illegitimate...I would like to re-emphasize that we do not see any glory, pride or power in the nuclear weapons, quite the opposite based on the religious decree issued by our supreme leader, the production, possession, use or threat of use of nuclear weapons, are illegitimate, futile, harmful, dangerous and prohibited as a great sin."
Former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, March 2012: "We really do not want to make nuclear weapons and a nuclear weapon program...We deeply believe that nuclear weapons must not exist, and this has been part of our policy."
Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, April 12, 2012: "We have strongly marked our opposition to weapons of mass destruction on many occasions. Almost seven years ago, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made a binding commitment. He issued a religious edict — a fatwa — forbidding the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons. Our stance against weapons of mass destruction, which is far from new, has been put to the test." ("Iran: We do not want nuclear weapons," The Washington Post)
Ayatollah Mohammad Emami-Kashani, April 13, 2012: "As the Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei has said and other Iranian officials have reiterated, the work done in the field of nuclear energy is not meant for making nuclear weapons...These activities are for scientific purposes; you must realize and believe this."
Senior adviser to Khamenei, Mohammad Javad Larijani, April 13, 2012: "Iran is not after nuclear weapon[s]. Nuclear weapon is not an asset for us, it is more [of a] liability. Pakistan has nuclear weapons, you see is a shambled country in terms of security. It doesn't add to our security. We are secure enough, we are strong enough, without nuclear weapon. And it is against the fatwa of Ayatollah Khamenei. Nobody [would dare] do that...This is the fatwa of Iman Khomeini and the fatwa of Ayatollah Khamenei."
President Ahmadinejad, May 23, 2012: "[P]roduction and use of weapons of mass destruction is forbidden...There is no room for these weapons in Iran's defense doctrine."
Iran's chief negotiator Saeed Jalili, June 16, 2012: "Firstly, we are strongly against weapons of mass destruction. Today, the Islamic Republic of Iran has the capacities to cooperate in disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation, so these capacities should be used by the international community."
Ayatollah Khamenei, August 30, 2012: "Nuclear weapons neither ensure security, nor do they consolidate political power; rather they are a threat to both security and political power...The Islamic Republic of Iran considers the use of nuclear, chemical and similar weapons as a great and unforgivable sin. We proposed the idea of [a] "Middle East free of nuclear weapons" and we are committed to it...I stress that the Islamic Republic has never been after nuclear weapons and that it will never give up the right of its people to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes."
Iranian Vice President and head of the Atomic Energy Organization Fereydoon Abbasi-Davani, September 17, 2012: "The Islamic Republic of Iran...has always opposed and will always denounce the manufacture and use of weapons of mass destruction."
President Ahmadinejad, September 23, 2012: "We will never use the wealth of our nation for these [nuclear weapons] objectives."
President Ahmadinejad, September 24, 2012: "At the end of the day, everyone knows that Iran is not seeking a nuclear bomb. The scene resembles one of a comedy show. Those who accuse us are those whose warehouses have nuclear stockpiles. They talk of security. If you are so preoccupied with this, why not do away with your own nuclear stockpiles?"
President Ahmadinejad, September 24, 2012: "Let's even imagine that we have an atomic weapon, a nuclear weapon. What would we do with it? What intelligent person would fight 5,000 American bombs with one bomb? Also, because of our beliefs, we do not believe in a nuclear weapon. We are against it."
Iranian Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations Eshagh Al Habib, September 27, 2012: "[The] nuclear program of my country  is exclusively peaceful and in full conformity with our international obligations and in exercising our inalienable right to use nuclear science and technology for peaceful purposes."
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, October 1, 2012: "Had Iran chosen to [go] nuclear in the sense of weaponization, it would not be a deterrent for Iran. It would attract more threats from the other side."
Iranian Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations Mohammad Khazaee, October 1, 2012: "Nuclear activities of my country are, and always have been, exclusively for peaceful purposes and the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran has been repeatedly confirmed by the IAEA."
Furthermore, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei's own website has had, for some time now, an entire page specifically dedicated to Iran's official policy on nuclear energy and nuclear weapons. It states clearly, "According to our logic, it is not right for a country to use its knowledge to produce such weapons as nuclear bombs which annihilate armed soldiers, innocent civilians, children, babies and oppressed people indiscriminately once they are dropped somewhere," adding, "Iran is not after an atomic bomb, and it is even opposed to possession of chemical weapons. Even when Iraq used chemical weapons against Iran, we did not try to manufacture chemical weapons. Such things are not in line with the principles of the Islamic Republic of Iran."
Khamenei's official statement repeatedly affirms, "The Islamic Republic of Iran does not have this motivation, and it has never been after nuclear weapons. Iran does not need a nuclear bomb" and "We believe that using nuclear weapons is haram and prohibited."
Referring to the American use of nuclear weapons to murder hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Khamenei explains that the "anti-human effects went beyond political and geographic borders, even inflicting irreparable harm on future generations. Therefore, using or even threatening to use such weapons is considered a serious violation of the most basic humanitarian rules and is a clear manifestation of war crimes."
Reading this litany, it is no wonder President Ahmadinejad recently told journalists in New York that the nuclear issue "is a very tiresome subject."
But naturally, these constantly repeated statements by Iranian officials have had no affect on Jeffrey Goldberg. He still regularly frets about "the threat posed by Iran's nuclear ambitions to world peace" and somehow believes that a nuclear-armed Iran would actually threaten the "existence" of his once-adopted nation, Israel.
Why is that?
It is because, according to Goldberg, Iranian leaders - like all Orientals - are wily and deceitful by nature and therefore any clear, unequivocal statements like the ones reiterated for decades are not to be trusted. Goldberg refuses to believe that Iranian officials are anything other than "crazy," "mystically minded," "bloody minded," "comprehensively evil," "eliminationist anti-Semites", despite (a) how manifestly ignorant and bigoted that sentiment inherently is, and (b) the admonitions of both U.S. and Israeli officials against such myopia:
General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff: "We are of the opinion that the Iranian regime is a rational actor. They act and behave as a rational nation-state."As career diplomat Chas Freeman wrote in his 1994 resource, The Diplomats' Dictionary, "To dismiss a foreign government, policy or circumstance as 'irrational' is to confess that one does not understand its motivations, causes, or calculus, has no idea how to deal with it short of the use of force, and has no intention of making the effort to discover how to do so." This perfectly sums up the deficiency of Goldberg's (and other neoconservative acolytes') routinely shoddy analysis, ideological aversion to facts, and increasingly bellicose commentary.
Lieutenant General Benny Gantz, Israeli Defense Forces Chief of Staff: "I think the Iranian leadership is composed of very rational people."
Lieutenant General Ron Burgess, U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency Director: "Iran is unlikely to initiate or provoke a conflict."
General Meir Dagan, former Director of the Mossad: "The regime is a very rational regime. There is no doubt they are considering all the implications of their actions."
General Gabi Ashkenazi, former Israeli Defense Forces Chief of Staff: "The Iranian regime is radical, but it's not irrational."
Lieutenant General James Clapper, U.S. Director of National Intelligence: "We continue to judge that Iran's nuclear decision-making is guided by a cost-benefit approach. 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."
Lieutenant General Ehud Barak, Israeli Defense Minister: "I don't think the Iranians, even if they got the bomb, (would) drop it in the neighborhood. They fully understand what might follow. They are radical but not totally crazy. They have a quite sophisticated decision-making process, and they understand reality."
Efraim Halevy, former Director of the Mossad: "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."
Admiral Dennis Blair, former U.S. Director of National Intelligence: "Iran hasn't made up its mind [to acquire a nuclear weapon]...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 claim that Iran is a martyr state, hell-bent on obtaining a nuclear weapon in order to obliterate Israel, literally makes no sense and is used solely as a bludgeon against any rational commentary about Iranian national rights, sovereignty and potential intentions. The hysteria and selective outrage over boilerplate rhetoric from Iranian leaders is yet another prong of this strategy.
The overall effect is to paint the Iranian leadership as a one-dimensional caricature devoid of reason, pragmatism or concerns unrelated to Israel or the United States. In essence, Iran as a whole is depicted with cartoonish simplicity, much like Netanyahu's buffoonish bomb drawing.
Iranian leaders understand well the purpose of this caricature and have spoken out against it. For instance, in 2009, Iranian leader Ayatollah Khamenei stated clearly, "Regarding our vital issues, we are not sentimental. We do not make decisions based on emotion. We make decisions through calculation."
Nevertheless, in his capacity as the Israeli Prime Minister's dutiful mouthpiece here in the United States, Goldberg consistently allows himself to be willfully used by the Israeli leadership to promote whatever public image it seeks to show at any given time.
To put it simply, Goldberg is nothing but a propagandist.
His adherence to Israeli government talking points, fealty to the concept that American aggression should be never be hampered by law or morality, and his blinkered understanding and incessant demonization of Iran are testaments to this fact.
Consequently, when a Nobel Peace Prize-winning President repeatedly affirms his commitment to authorize the supreme international crime of initiating a war of aggression, Goldberg lauds this determination as a consistent, crystal-clear promise. When Iranian leaders consistently declare they have no intention of acquiring nuclear weapons or attacking any country, they are either dismissed as liars or, more often, totally ignored.
It is clear that, for Jeffrey Goldberg, along with a large majority of the mainstream press, the record is only the record if it conforms to and reinforces predetermined assumptions and a political agenda.
***** ***** *****
This post was originally posted at Mondoweiss.
November 8, 2012 - Speaking at a forum in Bali, Indonesia, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad repeated the often-stated official policy of the Iranian government regarding nuclear weapons.
Reuters reports the president as saying, "The period and era of using nuclear weapons is over...Nuclear bombs are not anymore helpful and those who are stockpiling nuclear weapons, politically they are backward, and they are mentally retarded." He added, "The Iranian nation is not seeking an atomic bomb, nor do they need to build an atomic bomb...For defending ourselves we do not need a nuclear weapon."
Such comments echo Ahmadinejad's statement at Columbia University in September 2007 when he declared, "We do not believe in nuclear weapons, period. It goes against the whole grain of humanity...I think the politicians who are after atomic bombs or are testing them, making them -- politically they are backward, retarded."
January 15, 2013 - In yet another unequivocal declaration of Iran's official prohibition on nuclear weapons, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said today at a press conference, "There is nothing more important in defining the framework for our nuclear activities than the Leader's fatwa," adding, "This fatwa is our operational instruction."
A brief report paraphrasing the statement was picked up by media outlets worldwide.
But Associated Press reporter Ali Akbar Dareini has more:
Mehmanparast could not be more definitive in dispelling suspicions that Iran may ultimately develop a nuclear weapon.Such a statement echoes comments made last Autumn by Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi during an interview with World Policy Journal, which was only recently published in full. Salehi, who holds a Ph.D. in nuclear physics from MIT and has previously held posts as Iran's ambassador to the IAEA and head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, suggested the best way for Western concerns over Iran's nuclear program to be resolved:
"We are the first country to call for a Middle East free of nuclear weapons," he said. "When the highest jurist and authority in the country's leadership issues a fatwa, this will be binding for all of us to follow. So, this fatwa will be our top agenda."
Mehmanparast said Westerners "don't have an accurate understanding of Islamic beliefs and fatwas issued by great scholars," suggesting that the U.S. and its allies must take Khamenei's edit seriously.
To highlight its seriousness, he said Iran is willing to "register the fatwa as an international document."
We are ready to recognize the concerns of the West and to try to mitigate them using all the possible instruments that are available, such as Additional Protocol 3.1, translating the fatwa of the Supreme Leader into a secular, binding document that would bind the government to this fatwa, to which it is already bound, but which some in the West argue is a religious document, not a secular one. But we are ready to transform it into a legally binding, official document in the UN. And so we are ready to use all means and mechanisms and conventions or safeguards to remove the concerns of the other side.*****
In the meantime, we expect the other side to recognize our right to peaceful nuclear technology, including enrichment. And then, although we keep the right to enrichment to any level, but as our president has said, we are ready to voluntarily limit ourselves to five percent on the condition that we are given firm guarantee that whenever we need fuel whose enrichment is more than five percent that it would be supplied by the other side, by the other party. So I think if we have good intentions, if both sides have the will to get over this issue, it is possible. We remove your concern; you recognize our right. What else do we have to do?
January 30, 2013 - In one of the rare instances of public acknowledgement, Arms Control Association senior fellow Greg Thielmann points out in a new brief entitled, "Iran's Missile Program And Its Implications For U.S. Missile Defense," [PDF] that there has been "no change in the assertions of Iranian political and military leaders, who deny any intention of or political-military requirement for developing either nuclear weapons or long-range missiles." He continues:
The clerical leadership in Tehran continues to challenge the rationale and morality of nuclear weapons. Although such policy statements are hardly determinative of actual intentions, they do stand in stark contrast to the declaratory policies of other governments of proliferation concern, such as North Korea or Pakistan. Moreover, even as Iran exaggerates (or fraudulently represents) its capabilities with regard to short- and medium-range missiles, it continues to disavow the need for longer-range systems.A similar point was made by former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski in 2009. He stated that Iran has been "publicly affirming for quite some time" three main points: "We don't want nuclear weapons. We're not seeking nuclear weapons. Our religion forbids us to have nuclear weapons." Brzeneski added, "Note, incidentally, that this stands in sharp, explicit contrast with the position of the North Koreans. The North Koreans have been saying the very opposite: 'We want nuclear weapons. We're seeking nuclear weapons. And, in your face, haha!, we have nuclear weapons.'" Brzenzinski also condemned the American penchant for "oversimplification and sloganeering rather than analysis" with regards to Iran.
In his new paper, Thielmann also points out that a recent Congressional Research Service report "judged it 'increasingly uncertain whether Iran will be able to achieve an ICBM capability by 2015,' as previously forecast by the intelligence community," and that "[a]n understanding that the Iranian ICBM threat is less acute than previously depicted dovetails with the growing realization that U.S. strategic defense capabilities are less robust than previously portrayed."
A former State Department and Senate Intelligence Committee analyst, Thielmann is currently the Director of ACA's "Realistic Threat Assessment Project" and has an admirable history of not only resisting alarmism but also pushing back against it.
For instance, when everyone was freaking out about the totally overhyped November 2011 IAEA report on Iran, Thielmann wrote (along with Ploughshares Fund senior analyst Benjamin Loehrke) in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, "Most analysts familiar with the report agree that there 'is nothing in the report that was not previously known by the governments of the major powers' -- a nuclear Iran is 'neither imminent nor inevitable.'"
Thielmann noted further that "there is nothing [in the report] that indicates that Iran is really building a bomb," adding, "Those who want to drum up support for a bombing attack on Iran sort of aggressively misrepresented the report."
Such candor and honesty is indeed uncommon in the mainstream discourse when it comes to Iran, its capabilities and its stated intentions and Thielmann's commitment to reality should be commended.
(Note: Oddly enough, the report's title is misleading considering it analyzes not only Iran's missile program, but also North Korea's and, perhaps most importantly, that of both Russia and China. Thielmann writes, "The only country that poses an unambiguous, existential threat to the United States from its strategic arsenal is Russia" and that "China too could plausibly launch a devastating nuclear retaliatory strike against the United States."
"Fortunately," he points out, "neither Russia nor China is an enemy; each has significant overlapping interests with those of the United States."
Thielmann writes that while "Tehran has still not decided to build nuclear weapons and continues to focus on short- and medium-range rather than longer-range ballistic missiles...North Korea is the emerging nuclear weapons state closest to being able to threaten U.S. territory with an ICBM. It has twice conducted underground nuclear tests. It is thought to have enough fissile material for four to eight nuclear warheads."
Why this report was published with a title referencing only the Iranian missile program has is anyone's guess.)
February 14, 2013 - Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani has yet again affirmed the Iranian government's opposition to nuclear arms.
Speaking to reporters in the the Pakistani capital Islamabad on February 12, 2013, Larijani said, "We have repeatedly said that such weapons have no place in Iran's nuclear doctrine. Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei has also issued a fatwa, forbidding the creation and stockpiling of weapons of mass destruction."
Iran's PressTV noted that Larijani "described nuclear weapons as harmful to the peace and security of nations."
February 16, 2013 - Associated Press reporter Ali Akbar Dareini today relayed parts of a new speech delivered by Iranian leader Ali Khamenei in Tehran which - yet again - reiterated Iran's long-held position on nuclear weapons.
"We believe nuclear weapons must be abolished and we have no intention of building" such weaponry, Khamenei said, adding, "If Iran had the intention to build nuclear weapons, the U.S. could in no way stop the Iranian nation." He continued, "They want to deny the Iranian nation of its definite and inalienable right to uranium enrichment and peaceful use of nuclear energy. Of course, they won't succeed."
February 18, 2013 - Juan Cole has posted Khamenei's entire speech, which was delivered to a gathering of Iranians visiting Tehran from Tabriz. Here are some lengthier excerpts not available in the original AP report:
They constantly publish false statements about the Islamic Republic state and the Iranian nation. A few days ago, the American President made a statement about Iran's nuclear issues. He spoke as if the difference between Iran and America was that Iran wanted to build nuclear weapons, and he said that as far as they (American officials) could, they would not allow Iran to build nuclear weapons.*****
If we really intended to build nuclear weapons, how could you prevent us? If Iran had decided to have nuclear weapons, America could by no means stop it.
We do not want to build nuclear weapons. Not because America would be upset if we do so. It is rather what we have decided. We believe that nuclear weapons are a crime against humanity and should not be built; and whatever weapons there are in the world should be destroyed. This is what we believe in; and this has got nothing to do with you (Americans).
If we did not have such a belief and had decided to build nuclear weapons, no power could have stopped us, as they could not stop other countries, such as India, Pakistan, and North Korea, from doing so. They (the Americans) opposed them; nevertheless they built their nuclear weapons.
They are somehow deceptive in saying that they would not allow Iran to build nuclear weapons. The discussion is not over nuclear weapons. Iran's nuclear case is not about nuclear weapons. They (the Americans) rather want to prevent the Iranian nation from exercising its absolute and undeniable right, i.e. nuclear enrichment and the peaceful use of Iran's domestic capabilities. You (the Americans) are however not able to do so. The Iranian nation will exercise its right.
March 6, 2013 - Speaking before the IAEA Board of Governors, Iran's envoy Ali Asghar Soltanieh reaffirmed the Iranian position that "[n]uclear weapons have no place in the defense doctrine of Iran."
March 21, 2013 - In his Nowruz speech in northeastern Iran, Khamenei addressed the constant allegations made by American officials. "We have repeatedly told you that we are not after nuclear weapons. You say you don't believe us. Why should we believe you?," he said. "When you are not ready to accept an honest and logical remark, why should we accept your words that have been disproved many times?"
The Iranian leader further explained, "Iran only wants that the world recognize its enrichment right which is its natural right."
April 16, 2013 - While on a three-day visit to Africa, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has once again repeated the official position of the Islamic Republic toward nuclear weapons, articulating the same statements he has made consistently for years.
"The era of the atomic bomb is over. Atomic bombs are no longer useful and have no effect on political equations. Atomic bombs belong to the last century, and anyone who thinks he can rule the world by atomic bombs is a political fool," Ahmadinejad said, according to a report by Iran's state-run PressTV.
He also called the conflation of nuclear energy with nuclear weapons "a big lie."
"Nuclear energy is one thing and an atomic bomb is another. This useful energy must belong to all nations," Ahmadinejad stated, adding "We are fighting so that all nations could use peaceful nuclear energy."