Anti-Iranian rhetoric and saber rattling is one thing, baseless accusations another if serve as pretext for aggressive war.
Whether or not it's coming isn't known. Heated tensions are worrisome if boil over. Leaked information on an imminent IAEA report may or may not precipitate it even though what's coming lacks credibility.
During his tenure as IAEA director general (December 1, 1997 - November 30, 2009), Mohamed ElBaradei carefully avoided anti-Iranian rhetoric and baseless charges. Numerous times he discounted a potential threat with comments like:
People should stop claiming "Iran will be a threat from tomorrow and that we are faced right now with the issue of whether Iran should be bombed or allowed to have the bomb. We are not at all in that situation. Iran is a glaring example of how, in many cases, the use of force exacerbates the problem rather than (solves) it."
Referring to "extreme people (with) extreme views," he once said "you do not want to give additional argument to some of the 'new crazies' who want to say let us go and bomb Iran."
He said "Israel would be utterly crazy to attack Iran." The same holds for America, Britain, and/or France. Doing so would "turn the region into a ball of fire and put Iran on a crash course for nuclear weapons with the support of the whole Muslim world."
He believes nonproliferation "lost its legitimacy in the eyes of Arab public opinion because of the perceived double standard" on Israel, a known nuclear power.
He called claims about Iran developing nuclear weapons "overestimated. Some even play it up intentionally."
During and after his tenure, ElBaradei took lots of flack for his comments. Repeatedly he said no evidence suggests an Iranian nuclear weapons program.
As a result, Washington and Western allies replaced him with Yukiya Amano, known to be more amenable to their interests. Six ballots and heavy pressure eliminated South Africa's Abdul Samad Minty.
Amano hasn't disappointed, providing conjecture, dubious intelligence, and fabricated allegations about an alleged Iranian nuclear program. Suggesting one exists without evidence could "turn the region into a fireball" as ElBaradei warned.
Nonetheless, in February 2010, Amano issued dubious material suggesting "possible military dimensions" to Iran's nuclear program. No evidence proved it, just unsubstantiated conjecture and undocumented studies.
Many claims then and perhaps now were supposedly found on a laptop smuggled out of Iran. Whether it exists isn't known, or if "laptop" is code language for one or more unnamed sources. Alleged documents weren't made public. If they exist, their authenticity is very suspect.
On November 6, Washington Post writer Joby Warrick headlined, "IAEA says foreign expertise has brought Iran to the threshold of nuclear capability," saying:
Alleged intelligence "shows that Iran's government has mastered the critical steps needed to build a nuclear weapon, receiving assistance from foreign scientists to overcome key technical hurdles, according to (unnamed) Western diplomats and nuclear experts briefed on the findings."
Former Soviet nuclear expert Vyacheslav Danilenko "allegedly tutored Iranians over several years on building high-precision detonators of the kind used to trigger a nuclear chain reaction, the officials said." Pakistani and North Korean involvement was also claimed.
Danilenko acknowledged assisting in civilian engineering projects unrelated to weapons development. Unsubstantiated allegations suggest otherwise.
Other "secret" sources were also cited, disputing evidence a previous article provided as follows:
In December 2007, America's National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) said:
"We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program; (perhaps it never had one); we also assess with moderate-to-high confidence that Tehran at a minimum is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons..."
True or not, dozens of nations may consider them, for defense, not offense, in a hostile world. American and Israeli nuclear arsenals and other destructive weapons pose enormous threats - less because they exist; mostly because of stated intentions to use them.
The NIE also said:
"We assess with moderate confidence Tehran had not restarted its nuclear program as of mid-2007, but we do not know whether it currently intends to develop (them)."
"Tehran's decision to halt its nuclear weapons program suggests it is less determined to develop (them) than we have been judging since 2005."
In February 2010, America's Annual Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence said:
"We do not know....if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons." No evidence of an ongoing program was presented.
In March 2011, the US Intelligence Community Worldwide Threat Assessment for the Senate Armed Services Committee said precisely the same thing. Nothing new suggested an Iranian nuclear weapons program.
Nonetheless, baseless IAEA allegations claim "secret intelligence....reinforce(s) concerns" about Iranian nuclear weapons development. Views pro and con are circulating. Some US arms control groups cautioned about exaggerating an unknown risk.
Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran's Foreign Minister and former top nuclear official, said IAEA's agenda is "100 percent political." It's "under pressure from foreign powers" to target Iran.
Its alleged intelligence and other sources aren't named. That alone makes them suspect.
On November 6, New York Times writers David Sanger and William Broad headlined, "US Hangs Back as Inspectors Prepare Report on Iran's Nuclear Program, " saying:
Making "the case is hardly conclusive....And however suggestive the evidence about what (IAEA) calls 'possible military dimensions' of Iran's program turns out to be, the only sure bet is that the mix of sleuthing, logic and intuition by nuclear investigators will be endlessly compared with American intelligence agencies' huge mistake" about Iraq's WMDs.
Unmentioned was Times writer Judith Miller's lead role, hyping them daily in front page features. She functioned duplicitously as a Pentagon press agent, and never apologized for lying.
On November 7, Press TV said senior Iranian cleric Ayatollah Seyyed Ahmad Khatami called IAEA head Amano a spineless US tool. Publishing fabricated documents about an alleged Iranian nuclear threat undermines the agency's credibility. Under Amano, it has none.
Appearing Sunday on ABC's "This Week," former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Washington should consider tougher penalties against Iran's government and do "everything we can to bring it down."
Russia Today (RT.com) reported that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned against attacking Iran, saying:
Military solutions won't solve international conflicts. "We get evidence to that every day when we see how problems around Iran are being solved: whether it's in Iraq or Afghanistan or what is happening in other countries of that region."
University of Tehran Professor Seyed Mohammad Marandi told RT that Israel's hostile rhetoric "is to put pressure on Iran and also (on) other countries - independent (ones) like China, Russia and others - to agree with new sanctions by sort of portraying (Iran) as a mad dog, attack dog that needs to be somehow controlled, so that if they agree to new sanctions, something bad will be prevented from happening."
There's a "general trend to corner Iran." IAEA's report lacks credibility. It's "based on forged documents. There is absolutely nothing new in (them). All the documents (are) from 2004 and before. And (former IAEA head) ElBaradei's assessment was completely" opposite what Yamano says based on the same information. "All these documents have been refuted in the past."
Yet political Washington, Israeli hard-liners, and complicit media scoundrels hype them. They also bogusly claim Iranian President Armadinejad wants Israel "wiped off the map."
He, in fact, believes Israel's belligerence is self-destructive. Others share that view, including about America. Countries living by sword sooner or later die by it.
At issue now is cooling tensions to prevent what no one but crazed militarists want - destabilizing the entire region and risking general war by attacking Iran and/or Syria. Preventing it is crucial.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.