Not News to Me…

heads up: this is a pretty old post, it may be outdated.

I've been straying away from posting 'general news' with the intent to focus more on journalism and photography related issues. However, there are sometimes issues that I can't help but comment on:

Surprise, surprise; Iran is developing nuclear weapons.

Part of the agency’s case hinges on 18 documents listed in the report and presented to Iran that, according to Western intelligence agencies, indicate the Iranians have ventured into explosives, uranium processing and a missile warhead design — activities that ordinarily would be associated with constructing nuclear weapons.

-Nuclear Agency Accuses Iran of Willful Lack of Cooperation -

I recently wrote a paper on the Iranian nuclear problem – the argument was severely hurt by a report from the US intelligence community stating that Iran had stopped work on nuclear weapons in 2003. Well, here's to US 'intelligence:'

“The Iranians are certainly being confronted with some pretty strong evidence of a nuclear weapons program and they are being petulant and defensive,” said David Albright, a former weapons inspector who now runs the Institute for Science and International Security. “The report lays out what the agency knows and it is very damning. I’ve never seen it laid out quite like this.”

Actually, I can tie this back to the press. Let's talk about bias in the media. Take a moment to read this excerpt from the first article:

A National Intelligence estimate published last December by American intelligence agencies concluded that Iran suspended its work on a weapons design in late 2003, in response apparently to mounting international pressure,** adding that it wasn’t certain whether the weapons work had resumed**.

The agency’s report highlights the amount of work still to be done before definitive conclusions about the nature of the program can be made, a task that the agency-associated official said would require months.

[Bolding applied]

When this news was first broken, the New York Times' coverage took a stance directly contradictory. There was little mention the surety of the government towards the restarting of the program. The focus was entirely about the stopping of the nuclear program in 2003. Here's the lead from the article:

WASHINGTON, Dec. 3 — A new assessment by American intelligence agencies concludes that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and that the program remains frozen, contradicting judgment two years ago that Tehran was working relentlessly toward building a nuclear bomb.

-U.S. Says Iran Ended Atomic Arms Work -

Though the article does go on to quote, "that intelligence agencies 'do not know whether it [Iran] currently intends to develop nuclear weapons,'" the news coverage at the time hardly focused on that angle. There is a bit of revisionist history here. The media has a bad tendency to focus on the sensational. If the NIE was inconclusive enough to say that it was not sure what the current status of the Iranian nuclear program was, then that should have been the focus of the reporting. Using the 'stopped in five years ago' angle is either poor reporting or dishonesty.

The second bolding from the excerpt is just another complaint I have about the whole international nuclear process/angencies/bumbling: It's been years since Iran started to develop nuclear weapons (clearly prior to 2003). It sounds like we've got pretty solid evidence that they're violating some rules:

  • "The agency also said that during a visit in April, it was denied access to sites where centrifuge components are being manufactured and where research of uranium enrichment is being conducted."
  • "The report makes no effort to disguise the agency’s frustration with Iran’s lack of transparency. It describes, for example, Iran’s installation of new centrifuges, known as the IR-2 and IR-3 (for Iranian second and third generations) and other modifications at its sprawling site at Natanz, as 'significant, and as such should have been communicated to the agency.'"

I'm unclear. What's going to take "months" to do? I don't get it; Iran is clearly in violation of the rules/international law. What's stopping someone from doing something about it?