Editor Note: Neocons,
including the Washington Post’s editors, keep playing games with the facts regarding Iran’s nuclear program. The
plan apparently is to guide the United States into a military confrontation
whether President Obama and the American people want one or not.
On the issue of Iran’s “nuclear ambitions” you hear one thing
on Monday, a different thing on Tuesday. “It’s a puzzlement!” to quote Yul
Brunner’s famous line in The King and I. But in this case, the confusion is
In a speech on March 4 to the American Israel Public Affairs
Committee (AIPAC), President Barack Obama drew a new red line, saying that if
diplomacy and sanctions fail, he would use military force to stop Iran from
acquiring nuclear weapons.
So, it’s important to try to separate fact from opinion,
taking our cue from the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who famously said:
“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”
On May 26, the editors of the Washington Post claimed that Iran has “no right” under the Nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to process uranium. In a Letter to the Editor
published by the Post on Saturday (June 2), Alireza Miryousefi of Iran’s mission
to the UN wrote that the Post was simply wrong on that key point.
The Iranian diplomat seemed to be quoting from the NPT in saying that it
unambiguously recognized “the inalienable right of all of the Parties to the
Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful
purposes without discrimination.” It turns out that it is word-for-word from the
“Peaceful purposes” would include fueling nuclear power
plants to generate electricity. But why, some ask, would Iran need those when it
has so much oil and natural gas? President Gerald Ford asked that same question
in 1976, before he was persuaded to approve a deal with the Shah of Iran, under
which Westinghouse and General Electric were to make billions of dollars by
supplying essentially the same full nuclear fuel cycle capability to Iran that
Tehran now claims the right to create on its own.
Ford’s principal aides, Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney,
reminded the President that Iran’s demand for electrical power would inevitably
increase and that its oil and gas resources would be depleted one day. In the
interim, they explained, Iran coveted the hard currency it earns from selling
its gas and oil on the international market.
The deal fell apart when the Shah fell from power. That this
history is not widely known has made it easier for some U.S. and Israeli
officials and pundits to argue that that the primary aim of Iran’s nuclear
development program must be to build nuclear weapons. For those hoping to stir
up a crisis with Iran, it’s helpful to shove down the memory hole that
Rumsfeld/Cheney once advocated for Iran having a nuclear program.
Part of the problem (not to mention the confusion) lies in
the fact that the uranium enrichment technology used for power plants can also
be used to create a nuclear weapon, assuming it is refined to a much higher
purity. And the prospect of a nuclear-weapon-capable Iran is widely considered a
frightening prospect in view of Iran’s supposed threat to “wipe Israel off the
map.” President Obama himself alluded to this in his March 4 address before
But a fact-checking problem is that no senior Iranian
official has threatened to “wipe Israel off the map.” Israeli Deputy Prime
Minister, Dan Meridor, who is also Israel’s minister of intelligence and atomic
energy, reluctantly conceded the point during an interview with Aljazeera on
April 14. Meridor agreed that Iranian leaders “didn’t say, ‘We’ll wipe Israel
But, still, “everyone knows” that Iran is secretly working on
a nuclear weapon. The trouble there is that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta
stated definitively on Jan. 8 that Iran is not doing that; and ten days later
his Israeli counterpart, Ehud Barak, agreed.
According to the official U.S. government translation of
Barak’s interview on Jan. 18 with Razi Barkay of Israeli Army Radio, Barak
stated that Iran “is evidently not trying to procure nuclear weapons.”
Barkay: How long will it take from the moment Iran decides
to turn it [Iran’s nuclear program] into effective weapons until it has nuclear
Barak: … It doesn’t really matter. To do that, Iran will
have to … announce its departure from the control regime [UN inspections], to
stop responding to IAEA’s criticism, and so forth. They haven’t done that. Why?
Because then it is clear to everyone that Iran is trying to acquire nuclear
NOTE: Tomorrow (Thursday, June 7) I’ll be speaking at Random Row Books, 315
West Main St., Charlottesville, Virginia, where, hopefully, more of the
confusion can be dispelled.
Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He served as a CIA analyst for 27 years, in the early 80s preparing The President’s Daily Brief and using it to conduct one-on-one morning briefings of President Reagan’s most senior national security advisers.
This article appeared first on Consortiumnews.com.