The systematic exaggeration of the Iranian threat

By MIKE CAREY

Great news, Iran is not building a bomb and that comes directly from the people who know; the Israelis, the Americans and their security agencies. In 2007, 16 top US intelligence agencies, including the hard-nosed CIA and Defence Intelligence Agency, assessed that Iran had no nuclear weapons research program at all.

We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program; … 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.

That National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), as it’s called, has never been rescinded.

Let’s jump forward to January 8, 2012 when US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta told Bob Schieffer on the CBS program Face the Nation that the Iranians are not trying to develop a weapon. Here’s the exchange…

Schieffer: Are they trying to develop a nuclear weapon?

 Panetta: No, but we know that they’re trying to develop a nuclear capability. And that’s what concerns us.

Leon Panetta went on,

…the responsible thing to do right now is to keep putting diplomatic and economic pressure on them [the Iranians]… and to make sure that they do not make the decision to proceed with the development of a nuclear weapon.

So why are American hawks banging the drums for war when the US Defence Secretary says, Iran hasn’t even made a “decision to proceed with the development of a nuclear weapon” let alone a weapon itself?

Panetta’s assessment accords with another insider and no peacenik, Israel’s Defence Minister, Ehud Barak. On January 18; he gave a candid interview to Israeli Army Radio.

Here’s what he said;

Question: Is it Israel’s judgment that Iran has not yet decided to turn its nuclear potential into weapons of mass destruction?

Barak:… people ask whether Iran is determined to break out from the control [inspection]regime right now … in an attempt to obtain nuclear weapons or an operable installation as quickly as possible. Apparently that is not the case. …

Apparently, Iran is not attempting to obtain nuclear weapons at the moment. Many countries have legitimate nuclear capability for the provision of nuclear power. Only a select few, like the USA, Israel, India, China, the UK, France, Russia, Pakistan and North Korea have gone on to produce nuclear weapons.

But, if that doesn’t allow you to sleep a little more easily then America’s Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper has another calmative.

Testifying before the US Senate, Armed Services Committee on February 16 this year, James Clapper had this exchange with Senator, Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina.

Lindsey Graham: You have doubt about the Iranian’s intention when it comes to making a nuclear weapon?

James Clapper: I do.

Graham: So you’re not sure they’re trying to make a bomb? [...]

Clapper: I think they’re keeping themselves in a position to make that decision but there are certain things they have not yet done and have not done for some time. [...]

At the same hearing he was quoted as making this extraordinary admission,

Despite the hype surrounding Iran’s pursuit of nuclear technology, the country’s leaders are not likely to develop weapons unless attacked… In addition the Iranians are unlikely to initiate or intentionally provoke a conflict.

So what’s fuelling this, mostly Republican, urge to bomb the mullahs? Perhaps it was the incendiary, “new” International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) suggestion that Iran was enriching uranium as part of a secret weapons program in a hidden location?

Interestingly, these allegations have only resurfaced since the new IAEA boss, Yukiya Amano, took up his position. The British media watchdog Medialens had an explanation and it came from US diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks showing Yukiya Amano may not be an honest broker in this debate.

In an US Embassy cable from Vienna, where the IAEA is based, Amano described himself as, “solidly in the U.S. court on every key strategic decision, from high-level personnel appointments to the handling of Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program.”

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