William O. Beeman – New American Media June 3, 2011
Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter Seymour Hersh has once again created controversy by stating in a recent New Yorker article, “Iran and the Bomb,” that there is no evidence that Iran is building a nuclear weapon. Hersh is correct, but his statement still provokes debate.
Politico reporter Jennifer Epstein, in a May 31 article, attempts to refute of Hersh’s assertion. Among other charges, she cites criticism of Hersh for using “anonymous sources” in this and other articles. Irony of ironies, Epstein’s entire story is based on an anonymous source attacking Hersh. She quotes “a senior administration official” saying: “[A]ll you need to read to be deeply concerned about Iran’s nuclear program is the substantial body of information already in the public domain, including the most recent IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] report.”
Since the most recent IAEA Report itself gives no detail whatsoever about this alleged military information, one can only conclude that the information it is talking about was leaked. Indeed, the website ISIS (Institute for Science and International Security) provided what purports to be the evidence for IAEA concern.
The information also appears to have been leaked to the New York Times. Writers David E. Sanger and William J. Broad reported on a series of unrelated “concerns” in Iranian engineering research that when considered together could lead to “triggering” technology for a nuclear weapon. Broad followed up with details in the Science Times section of the newspaper on May 31. He acknowledged that there is no evidence that such a trigger is known to be in development, and several of the elements are consistent with non-military peaceful applications.
In short, the IAEA report and the information leaked to ISIS are totally inconclusive regarding any military use of nuclear technology. If Epstein’s “senior official” wants to claim that this is the smoking gun that proves Iran to be manufacturing nuclear weapons, he or she would be laughed out of the room.
In addition, the Government’s own National Intelligence Estimate of 2011, released in March specifically has dropped language stating that Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions are a future option. Tellingly, the report has been buried by the Obama administration
According to Epstein, the “senior official” goes on to say:
“There is a clear, ongoing pattern of deception, and Iran has repeatedly refused to respond to the IAEA’s questions about the military dimensions of [its] nuclear program, including those about the covert site at Qom,”
This shows once again that “they ain’t got nuttin’.” Iran’s “refusal” to respond to the IAEA questions is limited to a mysterious laptop captured by U.S. Intelligence seven years ago containing “bomb plans” that no one has ever seen. The site at Qom is nothing but an empty hole in the ground with no fissile materials ever introduced–in short, a complete dead horse.
One can ask: Why does the administration continues to flog this non-starter of an issue in the face of its own intelligence on the issue?
Many who have questioned the Bush and Obama administration’s tenacity in holding on to this nuclear non-issue have often been accused of “supporting the mullahs” or worse. This is absolutely not the issue. The issue is not support or non-support of the Iranian regime, it is concern over America’s own ineffective foreign policy.
It is worth asking whether the United States is going to follow a reasoned and productive policy toward Iran or is going to keep obsessing about this non-existent nuclear issue to the exclusion of every other possible dimension of interacting with the Iranian State?
The United States really cannot afford to let this obstacle dominate our every move toward the most important political entity in the Middle East. The sad part is that the issue isn’t even one of ignorance or misinformation. It is one of ideology. To accept the reality that Iran is not the most dangerous nation on the planet is obviously a political third-rail in the United States. It triggers an avalanche of other accusations, Anti-Israeli attitudes or worse, Antisemitism, being among the most common and also the most irrelevant.
Anyone in government or the press, such as Hersh, who questions the utterly unproven postulate that Iran has an active, effective nuclear weapons program risks political disaster. Therefore, otherwise responsible people are willing to embrace a foolish lie that was concocted to serve as a selling point to the American people for Iranian “regime change” during the Bush administration.
Today the specter of the Iranian nuclear bogeyman serves no purpose whatever except to obstruct progress in bringing stability to the region. People embrace the “Iranian bomb myth” not so much because they know it to be true based on hard facts, but rather in order to avoid political attack. Where are our principles? Where is our professionalism?