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Thursday, February 11, 2010


Iran - the said and the unsaid

Sometimes it's what's said, other times it's what isn't said. The New York Times gives us a very typical example of the former today, when it refers to Iran's "nuclear ambitions" as simple fact. Not "suspected nuclear ambitions," or "alleged nuclear ambitions," just simply "nuclear ambitions" (by which they mean, it is simply assumed by every reader, nuclear weapons ambitions). I think it's safe to say, without even seeing a poll, that a huge majority of Americans believe Iran is building nuclear weapons, thanks to countless repetitions of this precise formulation.

But what's unsaid, although harder to spot, is just as important in forming public opinion, and today's AP article on Iran has several examples of that. The whole article is about a "confidential document" which details Iran's efforts to enrich a small amount of uranium to 20% for use in a research reactor producing medical isotopes. Although the IAEA is referenced in the article, not once does the author point out that Iran is giving full cooperation to the IAEA. The "confidential" document might give some readers the idea that its the result of some secret intelligence or spying on Iran, although if those readers get to the ninth paragraph of the article, they will finally learn that the report is based "on onsite reports from International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors" (still without using the word "cooperation").

The article also notes: "But the West says Tehran is not capable of turning the material into the fuel rods needed by the reactor." Strangely enough, however, when it comes to the question of building a nuclear weapon, there is never anyone in the "West" claiming that Tehran is "not capable of turning enriched material" into a nuclear warhead. Curious.

Finally, and most importantly, there's this statement:

Instead [the West] fears that Iran wants to enrich the uranium to make nuclear weapons. Iran denies such aspirations.
But, as I have pointed out numerous times, Iran does a lot more than just "denying" such aspirations. When you just say someone "denies" something, you immediately bring to mind almost every criminal in the world, who denies being guilty of some theft or some murder. "Denials" really mean almost nothing. But Iran has gone far beyond just "denying such aspirations," as I have noted many times, even going so far as its "Supreme Leader" issuing a fatwa against them. As usual, that went unsaid. As did any reference to speeches like this by the elected leader of the country, Ahmadinejad, which go far beyond "denying" aspirations for nuclear weapons:
"Sciences and technologies thanks to the faith in God is in the service of humanity. It is science tempered by faith that serves peace and progress. We have declared on numerous occasions that we seek peace and stability on the basis of faith in humanity, in a unitary God, and in justice for the entire human race. We have declared many times, and we declare again, that our nuclear technology is in the service of peaceful goals. We declare that mass destruction weapons are sought by those who still think in the mode of 50 years ago. Those who think that political equations and cultural and economic equations can be solved to their benefit by relying on arsenals of mass destruction weapons. Our nation is a civilized nation, a cultured nation, that relies on the faith and will of its young nationals. Our nation, in order to achieve its aspiration, relies on the thoughts and beliefs and enhanced values that lie in the Islamic culture and Iranian culture. Our nation does not elicit its power from nuclear weapons. The power of our nation is rooted in the justice of its beliefs.

"We have declared and I declare again that the total sum of our nuclear activities in all phases were under the full supervision of the atomic agency, and today we also wish to stay under the supervision of the IAEA and continue our activities. What we have achieved and will achieve in the future will be in the framework of the legitimate rights of Iran and based on the universally accepted laws including the laws of our nation and the IAEA under the Non-Proliferation Treaty. We, on the basis of international rules and our legitimate rights, continue our path towards having nuclear power plants."
Update: Then there's this from today:
Iran has the capacity to make weapons-grade nuclear fuel if it chooses, the Iranian leader declared, adding that Iran had succeeded in enriching uranium to 20 percent and was now a "nuclear state."

"We have the capability to enrich uranium more than 20 percent or 80 percent but we don't enrich (to this level) because we don't need it," he said. "When we say we do not manufacture the bomb, we mean it, and we do not believe in manufacturing a bomb. If we wanted to manufacture a bomb, we would announce it."

The Obama administration dismissed Iran's contention it is enriching uranium at a higher level, adding that such claims were disturbing.

Even if untrue, Ahmadinejad's claim "further solidifies our impression and that of the international community that Iran's nuclear intentions are anything but peaceful," State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said.
This is bizarre on so many levels. First of all, they "dismissed Iran's contention"? But it's already been confirmed by the IAEA, as you can read above. Second, how on earth does Ahmadinejad's statement that "we do not believe in manufacturing a bomb" "solidify" the impression that their nuclear program isn't peaceful?

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