The reporting of the New York Times on the Iran crisis was once again a study in disingenuousness on Saturday.  --  UFPPC's Randy Talbot comments....

1.

Commentary

WHAT KIND OF FOOLS?
By Randy Talbot

** For the New York Times, the ends justify the means when it comes to Iran **

United for Peace of Pierce County (WA)
June 3, 2006

The reporting of the New York Times on the Iran crisis was once again a study in disingenuousness on Saturday, June 3, 2006.

Consider these facts: A page-seven story by Nazila Fathi and Steven Lee Myers acknowledged that "Iran's supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has the final word over decisions on the country's nuclear program." It also noted that the "package of incentives" agreed upon in Vienna on Thusday by the U.S., the EU-3 nations (France, Germany, and the U.K.), Russia, and China, has not yet been presented to Iran, but rather "is expected to be presented to Iran in the coming days."[2]

Yet editors made Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's general remarks on Friday about Iran's right to develop a peaceful nuclear program the basis of a below-the-fold front-page misrepresentation: "Iran Rejects Incentives Plan."

Unavailable on the paper's web site, this misrepresentation is nevertheless seen by hundreds of thousands of readers, few of whom will bother to read the article which it misrepresents.

On the web site of the Times, though, an AP story of an altogther different cast presently takes precedence over the Fathi-Myers piece that appears in the printed edition.

There, we read that Iran has still not seen the proposal, and, of course, is waiting to see the proposal before responding: "Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana would deliver the package to Iranian officials in the next few days. 'We are waiting to officially receive the proposals. We will make our views known after studying the package,' Mottaki said Saturday."[3]

Thus the Times's front-page announcement that "Iran Rejects Incentives Plan" is false.

As for President Ahmadinejad, AP reported that he told U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan by telephone that "[a] breakthrough to overcome world problems, including Iran's nuclear case," was possible, and reported that he welcomed unconditional talks with all parties, including the United States. Few, however, will see the AP story, and fewer will read it.

Meanwhile, on Saturday the Times also published its first editorial comment on the U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's surprise May 31 announcement.[3] It concludes, ominously: "There is only one successful resolution worth talking about -- a verifiable commitment by Iran not to develop the capacity to build nuclear weapons. Whether this comes about through incentives, punishments, or some combination of the two does not matter very much, so long as it comes about."

"So long as it comes about": in other words, the end justifies the means.

New York Times editors have already amply demonstrated that they are on board for aggression against Iran, should it come to that.

On the question of Iran, and on many other aspects of U.S. foreign policy, the Times unequivocally adopts the amoral logic of domination famously enunciated by the Athenian ambassadors in the Melian Dialogue of Thucydides's The Peloponnesian War: "Of the gods we believe," the Athenians told the Melians they were in the process of destroying, "and of men we know, that by a necessary law of their nature they rule wherever they can. And it is not as if we were the first to make this law, or to act upon it when made: we found it existing before us, and shall leave it to exist forever after us; all we do is to make us of it, knowing that you and everybody else, having the same power as we have, would do the same as we do" (The Landmark Thucydides [Free Press, 1996], pp. 354).

Similarly, the New York Times embraces the right of the West to dictate to Iran on the subject of its rights under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and to decide when so-called violations of the treaty (not violations at all, in the view of many competent experts) constitute a "breach of Iran's obligations" leading to foreiture of those rights.

It goes without saying that constant U.S. silence and complicity during the 40-plus years that Israel has spent developing its own nuclear program (Israel is now believed to possess about 200 nuclear warheads and never signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty) are never mentioned in this context.

The Times also finds it convenient to ignore the century-long history of Anglo-American imperialism that led to the 1979 Iranian revolution and Iran's current intransigence, preferring instead to marshal faux-humanitarian arguments that serve to prepare public opinion for aggression.

On Saturday's editoral page, though, there is evidence that many readers have seen through the ruses. Bernie Hargadon of Charlotte, N.C., writes: "Let's see now: we've said to Iran, if you stop doing what we don't want you to be doing, we'll talk with you about it, but only if you agree beforehand to discontinue doing it. It took months to come up with that? What are we missing here? What sort of fools do we take the Iranians for?"

The same kind of fools the New York Times take its readers for, perhaps?

--Randy Talbot covers the Iran crisis for United for Peace of Pierce County (WA).

***********************

2.

World

Middle East

IRAN WON'T BOW TO PRESSURE ON INCENTIVES, LEADER SAYS
By Nazila Fathi and Steven Lee Myers

** Cracks Show among Allies Offering Deal **

New York Times
June 3, 2006
Page A7

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/03/world/middleeast/03iran.html

TEHRAN -- President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Friday defied pressure from foreign leaders to accept a package of incentives in return for ending all nuclear activities, saying Iran will pursue its legal right to develop a peaceful nuclear program.

"Any pressure to deprive our people from their right will not bear any fruit," he was quoted as saying on state-run television.

"Their opposition to our program is not because of their concern over the spread of nuclear weapons," he said. "They are worried that Iran would become a model for other independent countries, especially Islamic countries, for access to advanced technology."

The details of the incentive package -- approved at a meeting of foreign ministers from the United States, Germany, Britain, France, China, and Russia in Vienna on Thursday -- have not been made public, but the proposal is expected to be presented to Iran in the coming days. In a statement, the six countries warned that "further steps" would be taken by the United Nations Security Council if Iran did not comply, but avoided any mention of sanctions or other specific punitive measures.

Diplomats emphasized the unanimity of the major nations in drafting a compromise proposal, and in Vienna on Friday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke of a shared commitment to the offer. "We also have an alternative path if Iran doesn't negotiate," she said.

But remarks by Russian and British leaders on Friday made it clear that the unanimity extended only to the incentives, not the possible punishments.

In an interview with international news agencies at his residence outside Moscow, Vladimir V. Putin, the president of Russia, said his country opposed the use of military force against Iran "under any circumstances."

He also ruled out any immediate discussion of sanctions, leaving open the question of whether Russia would ever support punitive action if Iran persists in resisting demands to suspend its uranium enrichment program.

"As for sanctions, we think it is a bit too early to put those on the agenda, as well," Mr. Putin said, according to the Interfax news agency. "There needs to be a detailed discussion with the Iranian leadership."

In a statement by the Foreign Office, Britain also ruled out the use of military force against Iran. "All parties are committed to a diplomatic solution," the statement said. "The use of military force was not discussed at all last night. This reflects the fact that military force is not on the agenda."

On Friday, the White House dismissed Mr. Ahmadinejad's remarks as a "negotiating position." Iran's supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has the final word over decisions on the country's nuclear program.

Highly enriched uranium can be used for making nuclear weapons. Iran has said that it wants to enrich uranium to low levels to use as nuclear fuel at its plants, and that it is entitled to do so under the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. The United States says it forfeited that right by using its nuclear power program as cover for developing weapons.

However, Mohammad Saeedi, deputy chief of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, suggested on Friday that Iran might enrich uranium to higher levels than previously announced.

Mr. Saeedi said that Iran would not accept a limit on the levels of its uranium enrichment, the ISNA news agency reported.

"It is incorrect to put a 3.5, 5 or even a 10 percent cap on Iran's level of uranium enrichment," ISNA quoted him as saying. "Fuel for light water reactors needs uranium enriched to even 19.9 percent."

"So, these remarks that Iran should accept a 10 percent cap on its enrichment cannot be correct," he added, without elaborating.

Iran uses a heavy-water program for enriching its uranium and had announced that it would enrich uranium up to 4 percent. Like Russia, China has argued that the best way to win concessions from Iran -- at least at this point -- is with engagement, not sanctions. That shared position effectively shelved any discussion of punitive action by the Security Council, where Russia and China both have veto power.

Asked if Russia would join in economic sanctions if Iran continued to resist international inspections and demands to suspend its enrichment programs, Mr. Putin said he would not discuss hypothetical questions.

"If a grandmother had certain gender characteristics," he said, "she would be a grandfather."

--Nazila Fathi reported from Tehran for this article, and Steven Lee Myers from Moscow.

3.

World

Middle East

IRAN SAYS NUCLEAR BREAKTHROUGH IS POSSIBLE

Associated Press
June 3, 2006

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/world/AP-Iran-Nuclear.html

TEHRAN -- Iran's president told U.N. chief Kofi Annan on Saturday that a breakthrough in negotiations over its nuclear program was possible, and he welcomed unconditional talks with all parties, including the United States.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said a settlement could take place as long as the International Atomic Energy Agency -- the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog -- preserved Tehran's right to use atomic energy, Iran's state-run television reported.

"A breakthrough to overcome world problems, including Iran's nuclear case, would be the equal implementation of the law for all," it quoted Ahmadinejad as telling Annan in a phone conversation.

Ahmadinejad's comments alluded to the fact that Iran has signed the IAEA treaty, which allows member states to pursue nuclear energy for peaceful uses.

In a major policy shift, the United States agreed this week to join France, Britain, and Germany in talks with Iran, provided Tehran suspends all suspect nuclear activities. It would be the first major public negotiations between Washington and Tehran in more than 25 years.

Six world powers decided Thursday to offer Iran a new package of incentives if it gives up uranium enrichment or impose sanctions if it refuses.

The United States warned Friday that Iran does not have much time to respond to the proposal, suggesting that the window could close and be replaced by penalties.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana would deliver the package to Iranian officials in the next few days.

"We are waiting to officially receive the proposals. We will make our views known after studying the package," Mottaki said Saturday. He added that Iran would join no talks if conditions were attached.

At an Asian security conference, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Washington was still hoping for a positive Iranian response to the new incentives package.

Rumsfeld said he hoped Iran would "recognize the seriousness and substance" of what had been put forward.

The package, agreed upon by the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany, carries the threat of U.N. sanctions if Tehran remains defiant over its nuclear program.

Iran announced April 11 that it had enriched uranium for the first time, using 164 centrifuges. Enrichment can produce either fuel for a nuclear reactor or material for a warhead -- but tens of thousands of centrifuges are needed to do either on a large scale.

Iran intends to move toward large-scale uranium enrichment involving 3,000 centrifuges by late 2006 but also has indicated it may suspend large-scale uranium enrichment to ease tensions.

4.

Opinion

Editorials

WHAT COUNTS IN IRAN

New York Times
June 3, 2006
Page A22

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/03/opinion/03sat1.html

Smart diplomacy scored a rare victory inside the Bush administration this week when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced that Washington was now willing to join nuclear talks with Iran, if Iran would agree to suspend its enrichment and reprocessing activities. Whether or not Iran ultimately agrees to talk under these conditions, the United States has already strengthened its hand with European allies, Russia, and China, all of whose support would be needed for any successful resolution of the Iranian nuclear crisis.

The Russians, Chinese, Europeans, and Americans quickly followed up Secretary Rice's announcement with agreement on a new tactical approach. It would, for now, suspend discussions of Security Council sanctions and instead offer a jointly agreed set of incentives aimed at persuading Tehran to suspend nuclear work and come to the bargaining table. If Iran spurns that conciliatory approach, Washington is sure to put sanctions back on the international agenda.

The next few days and weeks will be delicate. Iran makes much of its right, under international law, to enrich uranium for power plants. But it is much less eager to talk about its unambiguous obligation, under the same treaty, not to abuse that right for purposes of building nuclear weapons. Its current enrichment programs threaten to cross that critical line. Tehran would not be giving up any rights by suspending enrichment-related activities. It has already done so twice before. Many other countries with exactly the same legal right to enrichment and reprocessing have wisely chosen not to engage in those problematic activities.

There is only one successful resolution worth talking about -- a verifiable commitment by Iran not to develop the capacity to build nuclear weapons. Whether this comes about through incentives, punishments, or some combination of the two does not matter very much, so long as it comes about.

5.

Editorial/Letters

PROGRESS ON IRAN: NOT SO FAST
By Bernie Hargadon

New York Times
June 3, 2006
Page A22

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/03/opinion/l03brooks.html

To the Editor:

For those of us unschooled in the subtleties of international diplomacy, it is a mighty puzzle to read David Brooks wax rhapsodic about the administration's decision to condescend to talk with Iran over the nuclear issue ("No More Excuses," column, June 1).

Mr. Brooks tells us that "the rollout was masterful" and that the entire endeavor was impressive.

Let's see now: we've said to Iran, if you stop doing what we don't want you to be doing, we'll talk with you about it, but only if you agree beforehand to discontinue doing it.

It took months to come up with that? What are we missing here? What sort of fools do we take the Iranians for?

Bernie Hargadon
Charlotte, N.C., June 2, 2006