Lies from the IAEA

Independent Press, Iran Are the Ones Telling the Truth.

Bomb Iran newsPredictably, the news cycle is moving on from the Iran bomb theme (and implicitly the Bomb Iran theme, too). But in terms of national security, that doesn't matter much. The idea that Iran is on the verge of having a nuclear weapon - and that's the scariest thing in the world - has been hit enough by now that the truth has almost no chance of surviving. So I'll try to preserve it in this tiny sphere of the intertubes.

I found only one article with a headline that hinted towards objectivity: Scott Peterson, Iran nuclear report: Why it may not be a game-changer after all, in the now internet-only Christian Science Monitor, November 9, 2011. The lede is straight-forward and accurate:
The latest United Nations report on Iran’s nuclear program may not be the “game changer” it was billed to be, as some nuclear experts raise doubts about the quality of evidence – and point to lack of proof of current nuclear weapons work.

In a 14-page annex to its quarterly report on Iran released yesterday, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said new intelligence and other data gave it "serious concern" about the allegedly peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program. But the casus belli for military strikes that anti-Iran hawks in the US and Israel expected to gain from the IAEA report is far from clear-cut.

The report is based on more than 1,000 pages of information shared with the agency by US intelligence in 2005, one year after they were apparently spirited out of Iran on a laptop computer. But deep skepticism about the credibility of the documents remains – Iran has long insisted they are forgeries by hostile intelligence agencies – despite a concerted attempt by the IAEA to verify the data and dispel such doubt.

"It's very thin, I thought there would be a lot more there," says Robert Kelley, an American nuclear engineer and former IAEA inspector who was among the first to review the original data in 2005. "It's certainly old news; it's really quite stunning how little new information is in there."
The "alleged studies" story is long, so I won't go into it here. (Suffice to say it involves Israeli lies.) I will note however, that the one crucial ingredient to producing a nuclear bomb is highly enriched uranium (HEU), and Iran has none. The IAEA is on the ground in Iran at the enriching sites and has stated that no nuclear material has been diverted to anything other than peaceful use. You won't find mention of HEU in any of these lamestream media stories, even good ones like this.

Before moving on from this actual journalism, I have to link to this excellent background piece by Peterson, and quote "crazy" Mahmoud Ahmadinejad:
"Why are you ruining the prestige of the [UN nuclear] agency for absurd US claims?" Mr. Ahmadinejad asked, speaking before a flag-waving crowd in the central Iranian town of Shahr-e Kord. "The Iranian nation is wise. It won't build two bombs against 20,000 [nuclear] bombs you have. But it builds something you can't respond to: Ethics, decency, monotheism and justice."
If only our leaders had such "crazy" values. (Well, three out of four would suit me fine.) Of course, Iran doesn't live up to those values either. But Ahmadinejad is just a politician, who all lie, so you have to give him credit for saying the wise part. Meanwhile, the official Iranian response has been straight truth: IAEA report unbalanced, politically motivated: Iran envoy.

Speaking of liars, how do you know David Sanger of the New York Times is lying? He's writing about Iran: U.N. Agency Says Iran Data Points to A-Bomb Work. A-Bomb?!? Who writes A-bomb anymore?

Actually, a great reporter: Robert Parry, Déjà Vu Over Iran A-Bomb Charges,, November 10, 2011. He's an old-schooler, in all the good senses of the word. Here are some others, all outside the usual suspect outlets, although the first one is well known:

Paul Pillar, The IAEA's Yawner, The National Interest, November 10, 2011.

Juan Cole, Iraq, Iran and the Nuclear Phantasm: We’ve Seen this Picture, Informed Comment blog, November 9, 2011.

A lie-by-omission angle after the jump. What follows now is the update I posted earlier on Sarkozy's "liar" comment:

Here is an example of the Israeli press going far beyond anything the U.S. press would cover. The left-wing Israeli paper Ha'aretz had this headline on a follow-up story: The Sarkozy-Obama exchange reflects the world's growing frustration with Netanyahu. Not something you'd ever see in major U.S. news sources. And here's a quote from President Obama I can't find anywhere in the lamestream press[1]:
Obama also complained to Sarkozy about France's vote in favor of Palestinian membership in UNESCO, and asked him to tell the Palestinians to stop their unilateral moves at the United Nations.

"We'll have to impose economic sanctions on the Palestinians," Obama said.
WTF! I sincerely hope that this remark was said in jest. If not, Obama is much farther gone down the rabbit hole than even I thought. Another quote:
The exchange between Sarkozy and Obama is not exceptional; it represents the increasing contempt and frustration many world leaders feel for Netanyahu and the wavering position of the Israeli government in the international arena. Though Netanyahu promised nearly three years ago that he would deliver "surprises" with regard to the peace process and implement historic measures, many world leaders have stopped believing him.
Back to nuclear lies after the jump.

Here's the media's lie-by-omission: zero mention of the NIE of 2011. This National Intelligence Estimate - the most weighty intelligence report there is, involving all 17 agencies, which was leaked just months ago - stated that there was no evidence Iran has had a nuclear weapons program since 2003. Any mention of this in the current press? No. In fact, all the mentions of the NIE I've found only reference the 2007 version, which also said Iran had given up on its nuclear program in 2003. Only these mentions all come from the right and are taking advantage of the current IAEA lies to say how terrible the 2007 version was. (So terrible it kept us out of war with Iran back then - those were the days!) Here's a news search within the Iran story for "NIE." I only skipped a couple of sources:

About That 2007 NIE
National Review Online - ‎Nov 7, 2011‎
Yet our intelligence community issued a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) in 2007 declaring “with high confidence” that in 2003 Iran had “frozen” its active efforts to obtain nuclear weapons, and adding its “moderate confidence” that Iran had not ...

The IAEA Exposes Iran’s Shell Game
The Weekly Standard (blog) - ‎21 hours ago‎
The NIE was roundly criticized at the time as it relied on a slippery definition of “nuclear weapons program,” limited to Iran's “nuclear weapon design and weaponization work and covert uranium conversion-related and uranium enrichment-related work. ...

Emanuele Ottolenghi: Iranian nuclear details should've been released years ago
National Post (blog) - ‎6 hours ago‎
When, in December 2007, they jointly released key findings on Iran's nuclear program — the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) — their unclassified language appeared to suggest that Iran had stopped pursuing nuclear weapons. ...

Iran's Nuclear Project
American Enterprise Institute - ‎Nov 8, 2011‎
As analysts began to question the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), which changed definitions and manipulated evidence to exculpate Iran, each hid behind righteous indignation that anyone might question his professionalism. ...

U.S. should hit Iran's nuclear capability
The Tennessean - ‎Nov 8, 2011‎
The NIE proved a particularly timely cudgel for Democrats. It's worth pausing over that 2007 NIE, though, because the great story of the first decade of the 21st century, if you listened to Democrats, was that the Bush administration had “politicized” ...

The Significance of the November 2011 IAEA Report on Iran
Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs - ‎3 hours ago‎
Finally, it is important to recall when reviewing this information that at the end of 2007, the US published the "key judgments" of its National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran. That document asserted with "high confidence" that Iran had halted the ...

IAEA may show recent bomb-related atom work by Iran
Reuters - ‎Nov 8, 2011‎
"I suspect that the new IAEA report will play into the hands of US conservative and Israeli critics of the 2007 NIE (National Intelligence Estimate), who had accused the US intelligence community of playing down evidence of clandestine nuclear weapons ...

Now For a Real Iran Debate
Wall Street Journal - ‎Nov 7, 2011‎
The 2007 NIE now joins a September 1962 NIE—which claimed, just a month before the Cuban Missile Crisis, that the Soviets were unlikely to station missiles on the island—in the intelligence community's long hall of infamy. But Wednesday's IAEA report ...

New IAEA Report Charges Iran Experimented with Nuclear Weapons Components (blog) - ‎Nov 8, 2011‎
The IAEA report is sure to reopen the debate over the controversial 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), which concluded that Iran had halted its nuclear weaponization efforts in 2003. The Heritage Foundation lambasted the NIE at the time and has ...

A couple of independent accounts made the front page. Pepe Escobar, Asia Times and Antiwar Radio, is as excellent as usual.

Do the bomb Iran shuffle
Asia Times Online - ‎10 hours ago‎
Moreover, expect major pressure on the CIA to renege the crucial 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), which established - irrefutably - that Tehran had ditched a nuclear weapons program way back in 2003. All this dovetails with the dogs of war ...

IAEA report on Iran: more of the same, more hype.
Iran Affairs blog (via CASMII) - ‎Nov 9, 2011‎
Second, we'll be seeing a lot of spin by the Iran warmongers, claiming - falsely - that the IAEA report has vindicated their position, and so the NIE should be ignored. And that will be the more significant consequence. The invasion of Iraq, ...

[1] I wrote that before I checked it out. But I was very surprised the sanctions quote was ignored by the world press and even other Israeli outlets. A full day after the Ha'aretz story was filed, only two sources in the world contained that quote, both from the U.S.: the Jewish Daily Forward and Al Gore's Current republished the full story.

UPDATE: That I can't find a single corroborating report of this quote has me worried now. The story is complicated by the fact that the reporters who heard it were listening to a French translation of what Obama said. Then the rest of the Anglophone press had to have it translated back into English. From the memories of a small group of reporters who had pledged not to report it. Oh, and several days later. So it's a pretty sketchy quote. I'll keep looking into it.