Haaretz reported as "news" Wednesday a breathless, belligerent rant by Yossi Melman, a senior commentator and a 1990 Nieman Fellow at Harvard, claiming that the new IAEA report proves that Iran had "miniaturized a nuclear warhead on a Shihab missile and tested it." -- "The findings and evidence illustrate -- in the clearest wording ever by the IAEA -- that Iran has systematically and consistently been working in the past decade to produce its first atomic bomb," said Yossi Melman. -- "The report is a certificate of excellence and courage of the IAEA, led by director general Yukiya Amano, and it puts to shame past reports written by the same organization during the tenure of its Egyptian director general, Dr. Mohamed El Baradei," Melman said. -- Justin Raimondo, in an extensive commentary on the report, debunked the warmongering interpretations that are everywhere in mainstream media: "The fact is," he said, "that the only 'illegal' activities Iran has carried out, in actual reality, are computer simulations. This is what they mean when they accuse Iran of engaging in 'nuclear testing.'" -- "What jumps out at the careful reader of the IAEA report is that there is nothing concrete involved in this nefarious plot: only hearsay descriptions of blueprints and computer models, including various publicly available scientific studies authored by Iranian scientists." -- "After the big build-up, the actual content of the IAEA report is a major let-down: the movie is nothing like the previews. That isn’t stopping the “mainstream” media from running screaming headlines. NPR declared “Some of Iran’s Work is ‘Specific’ to Nuclear Weapons,” a claim echoed almost word for word by the tabloid Daily Mail. In a declarative phrase preceded only by the word 'Report' and a semicolon, CNN stated flatly: 'Iran Developing Nuclear Bombs.' Yet the report nowhere said anything this definitive: examined under a microscope -- which is how we should look at any and all pretexts for war -- the whole tissue of suppositions and 'secret' information is revealed in all its embarrassing flimsiness." -- Raimondo concluded pessimistically: "In the context of the long propaganda war the neocons have been faithfully waging over the past decade or so, we’re five minutes to zero hour." -- BACKGROUND: Yossi Melman is an inveterate Iran-basher who has devoted himself to advocating a military attack for years. -- In 2007, he said: "If the U.S. doesn't do it, Israel will have to do it. Otherwise, we will indeed have to live in the shadow of the Iranian nuclear mushroom." -- But why is Haaretz, a respectable paper, publishing an Op-Ed as "News"? ...
NO SMOKING GUN, BUT RATHER AN IRANIAN NUCLEAR MISSILE
By Yossi Melman
November 9, 2011
** The findings and evidence illustrate -- in the clearest wording ever by the IAEA -- that Iran has systematically, consistently been working in the past decade to produce its first atomic bomb. **
No smoking gun, but rather a missile with a nuclear warhead. This could well be the summary of the severe and unprecedented findings of the International Atomic Energy Agency's report submitted yesterday to the organization's 35 board members and immediately leaked to the media.
Despite the fact that the findings deal with technical details and are formulated in soft diplomatic jargon, they are unequivocal. The findings and evidence illustrate -- in the clearest wording ever by the IAEA -- that Iran has systematically and consistently been working in the past decade to produce its first atomic bomb.
The report, and especially the findings and evidence provided in the annex, describe the full chain of Iranian actions, carried out in the dark while trying to cover up, confuse, and spread disinformation throughout the world.
Through these activities Iran has succeeded in purchasing the knowledge, the technology, and the designs, and in carrying out the experiments that got it ever so close to producing a nuclear weapon: Iran has miniaturized a nuclear warhead on a Shihab missile and tested it.
The report is a certificate of excellence and courage of the IAEA, led by director general Yukiya Amano, and it puts to shame past reports written by the same organization during the tenure of its Egyptian director general, Dr. Mohamed El Baradei.
It's true that in the past two years, since Amano was appointed, the organization has received new evidence and information. However, most of the incriminating evidence was available when El Baradei led the IAEA, but he preferred not to publish the findings, or soften the wording in a way that would confuse the readers and portray Iran in a deceptive light, as if there wasn't conclusive evidence that it was aiming to produce nuclear weapons.
El Baradei, one must add, reiterated his beliefs even in the past few weeks, most notably in an interview with the *New Yorker*.
Amano, on the other hand, wasn't intimidated by the pressure and threats of Iran, or of Russia and China, who tried until the last moment to prevent the publication of yesterday's report, or at least of the annex that includes the damning evidence.
Iran is right about one thing: Amano is backed by the West and especially the U.S., who provided the information that forms the basis for the report. According to its text, the information in the report was provided by ten other countries, meaning ten intelligence agencies. One can assume, and read into foreign reports that the Israeli intelligence agencies -- the Mossad and the IDF's Aman (military intelligence) -- also contributed their share of the evidence.
Still, it remains doubtful whether the unequivocal evidence will bring the results Israel, the U.S., and the West hope for. Their hope is that the clear information regarding Iran's secret military nuclear program will persuade the leaders of Russia and China that one can't wait any longer before applying new, more comprehensive sanctions.
The sanctions of 2006, approved by Russia and China -- and that too, after a long struggle -- didn't deter the Iranians, led by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, from continuing to walk on the stealth path to nuclear armament.
Russia and China have their own interests, and an opposing foreign policy to that of the U.S. and the West. They have already indicated that they do not believe new sanctions should be applied, and are even outraged that the report -- and especially the annex -- is being published. They believe that the the timing is unfortunate and would further complicate diplomatic negotiations with Iran, aimed at persuading the Islamic Republic to change direction.
It is highly unlikely that the U.N. Security Council will be convened in the upcoming weeks to discuss a new set of aggressive sanctions. The only step that could possibly affect Iran's government would be severe sanctions against its banking system, including the Iranian central bank, which funds the networks that purchase the knowledge and means, or against its energy products, which are the main source of Iran's income.
Without sanctions that would harm these two sectors, Iran will continue on its way, albeit possibly hurt and weakened. The report is actually a victory for the Israeli point of view and somewhat harms American prestige. It completely contradicts the assessment of U.S. intelligence from 2007, which claimed that Iran stopped its secret nuclear program in 2003.
The IAEA actually claims the contrary, Iran didn't stop the program but rather increased it's pace. Still, Israel might feel frustrated when it tells the world, "We told you so." This frustration will emanate from the fact that in spite of the smoking gun that's on the table for all to see, it's doubtful that a shot will be heard in the final scene. In light of international interests, it seems that the only sanctions that could work will not be applied, and therefore Israel will find itself back at square one, facing the same dilemma: to attack or not to attack.
Some observers believe that Israel doesn't have the military capability for a strike that would efficiently stop the progress of the Iranian nuclear program, and that a failed attack would have severe consequences -- maybe even a full-fledged regional war that would disrupt the oil supply to the already problematic markets. And without an attack -- only the U.S. might carry it out effectively -- Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf states would be hostages to the Iranian regime. The fact that up until now Iran has acted rationally doesn't mean that it won't change course and press the button for apocalyptic, messianic reasons.
Behind the headlines
IRAN: FIVE MINUTES TO ZERO HOUR
By Justin Raimondo
** Tehran in the crosshairs **
November 9, 2011
If you wade through the International Atomic Energy Agency’s much-awaited report [.pdf] on Iran’s alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons technology -- a fate I wouldn’t wish on anyone -- what you’ll find is a studious ambiguity. “May,” “might,” and “could” are words that modify practically every assertion of Iranian perfidy:
“The information indicates that prior to the end of 2003 the above activities took place under a structured program. There are also indications that some activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device continued after 2003, and that some may still be ongoing.”
Or -- since “indications” are not evidence -- maybe not.
“The Agency has information from a Member State that Iran has undertaken work to manufacture small capsules suitable for use as containers of a component containing nuclear material. The Agency was also informed by a different Member State that Iran may also have experimented with such components in order to assess their performance in generating neutrons. Such components, if placed in the center of a nuclear core of an implosion type nuclear device and compressed, could produce a burst of neutrons suitable for initiating a fission chain reaction. The location where the experiments were conducted was said to have been cleaned of contamination after the experiments had taken place.”
Notice how unverifiable this is: if the evidence has been “cleaned” by those perfidious Iranians, then we’ll never know for sure, now will we? How very convenient.
Buried amidst all the technical jargon, interpolated with ambiguous conditional phrases, we have a story of a “clandestine nuclear network” -- presumably the one set up by A.Q. Khan -- which supposedly helped the Iranians set up their alleged weapons program. Or, rather, may have done so:
“In an interview in 2007 with a member of the clandestine nuclear supply network, the Agency was told that Iran had been provided with nuclear explosive design information. From information provided to the Agency during that interview, the Agency is concerned that Iran may have obtained more advanced design information than the information identified in 2004 as having been provided to Libya by the nuclear supply network.”
In short: maybe -- maybe not.
“Mainstream” media accounts of this farrago of half-truths and insinuations lead the unsuspecting reader to believe the Iranians are physically constructing a nuclear arsenal, which will shortly be aimed directly at Brooklyn, New York. The fact is that the only “illegal” activities Iran has carried out, in actual reality, are computer simulations. This is what they mean when they accuse Iran of engaging in “nuclear testing.” No one alleges Tehran has produced an actual physical bomb, or managed to put together a nuclear armed missile, and is hiding them underneath the Supreme Leader’s palace -- this time around, the War Party is at least trying to be a bit more subtle. But subtlety, as we know, is not their forte.
What jumps out at the careful reader of the IAEA report is that there is nothing concrete involved in this nefarious plot: only hearsay descriptions of blueprints and computer models, including various publicly available scientific studies authored by Iranian scientists. According to Khan, what was transferred to the Iranians was know-how: theoretical knowledge and contacts with suppliers. Yet throughout the IAEA report, although there are plenty of instances where Iran is alleged to have sought this or that dual use component, we are never told if they actually succeeded in procuring the item. While the report attributes its information to “Member States,” why will I not be surprised if this “intelligence” comes from the same folks who brought us the Niger uranium forgeries?
Although there is no smoking gun, the injection of the A.Q. Khan network into the propaganda mix at this level is a relatively new development, one that links the latest Enemy of the Moment (Pakistan) with longtime-favorite Iran. Why not kill two birds with one stone?
After the big build-up, the actual content of the IAEA report is a major let-down: the movie is nothing like the previews. That isn’t stopping the “mainstream” media from running screaming headlines. NPR declared “Some of Iran’s Work is ‘Specific’ to Nuclear Weapons,” a claim echoed almost word for word by the tabloid Daily Mail. In a declarative phrase preceded only by the word “Report” and a semicolon, CNN stated flatly: “Iran Developing Nuclear Bombs.” Yet the report nowhere said anything this definitive: examined under a microscope -- which is how we should look at any and all pretexts for war -- the whole tissue of suppositions and “secret” information is revealed in all its embarrassing flimsiness.
There’s another headline related to this that popped up in my Internet search for examples of journalistic war hysteria, and it is this: “Oil Rises on Iran Nuclear Concerns.” We are headed for a perfect storm of oil shock, economic turmoil, and the looming prospect of war with Iran.
This fits right in with the War Party’s agenda: wars are a great way to mask the effects of economic failure -- and simultaneously divert attention away from its real authors. Instead of accusing “obstructionist” Republicans of being the cause of our increasing poverty -- a narrative even the President’s most devoted cultists must admit is getting threadbare -- Obama can blame those obstinate Iranians for the economic chaos to come.
Now it’s clear why U.S. officials were ecstatic at the appointment of Yukiya Amano as the new IAEA chief, replacing the troublesome Mohammed el-Baradei. As revealed by WikiLeaks, U.S. diplomats came away from their first encounter with Amano convinced it “illustrate[d] the very high degree of convergence between his priorities and our own agenda at the IAEA.”
The American government’s agenda has never been in doubt, not since the days of George W. Bush, and that is “regime change” in Iran by any means necessary. The War Party has been building up to this climactic moment the way a composer slowly but surely works his way up to a crescendo -- and we are nearly at the crest of the wave with the release of this report.
All we need now, to provoke World War III, is a proper Sarajevo, an incident that will spark a regional war, and eventually a global conflagration.
10, 9, 8, 7, 6 ….
In the context of the long propaganda war the neocons have been faithfully waging over the past decade or so, we’re five minutes to zero hour.
The key to understanding the fraud at the heart of the IAEA report is the first paragraph of the summary:
“While the Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material at the nuclear facilities and LOFs declared by Iran under its Safeguards Agreement, as Iran is not providing the necessary cooperation, including by not implementing its Additional Protocol, the Agency is unable to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.”
Translation: the Iranians have no suitably enriched fissile material -- but because they won’t surrender their sovereignty and allow us to occupy their nuclear facilities at will, there is no “credible assurance” of this. Iran is guilty, and must prove its innocence: that’s what the justice of the West means in the context of its relations with Iran.