The Unreported News: All Iranian Nuclear Sites Routinely Inspected; No Violations

January 11th, 2012 - by admin & Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting – 2012-01-11 00:55:35

The Buried Lede on Iran: All Nuclear Sites Routinely Inspected, No Violations

The Buried Lede on Iran:
All Nuclear Sites Routinely Inspected, No Violations

John Glaser /

(January 9, 2012) — There are some “scary” reports out in the last few days about Iran beginning uranium enrichment at an underground bunker at the Fordow site near Iran’s holy city of Qom and “diplomats” are saying it is “particularly worrying because the site is being used to make material that can be upgraded more quickly for use in a nuclear weapon than the nation’s main enriched stockpile.”

The diplomats said that centrifuges at the Fordo site near Iran’s holy city of Qom are churning out uranium enriched to 20 percent. That level is higher than the 3.5 percent being made at Iran’s main enrichment plant and can be turned into fissile warhead material faster and with less work.

You have to read on — like, you know, beyond the headline and the first paragraph — to understand that it was back in February 2011, almost a year ago, that Iran sent a letter to IAEA explaining that they would begin enrichment for medical radioisotopes to treat cancer patients “by this summer” (which makes them 5 months late). Iran agreed in August that Forodow fell under IAEA safeguards and would not be making highly enriched uranium needed to build a bomb. In fact, the underground enrichment site at Fordow has been inspected at least ten times since October 2009 [4].

In fact, all of Iran’s 15 declared nuclear sites are routinely inspected by the IAEA, making cheating nearly impossible (these links are all from the twitter account of Micah Zenko, Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, who has been great on this issue in the last few days). And, to reiterate, the last IAEA report again confirmed the non-diversion of nuclear materials from any of these declared sites, meaning that all of it is accounted for and none is confirmed as being highly enriched anywhere close to the point needed for weapons-grade material.

All of that should be the lede in these news reports. But instead, the jingoistic media bias [See story below — EAW] on the Iranian nuclear issue again illustrates the journalistic obedience and servility to the power structure in Washington.

NYT Misleads Readers on Iran Crisis
Paper disappears some inaccurate reporting

>Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR)

NEW YORK (January 6, 2012) — In two articles yesterday (1/5/12), the New York Times misled readers about the state of Iran’s nuclear program.
On the front page, the Times‘ Steven Erlanger reported this:

The threats from Iran, aimed both at the West and at Israel, combined with a recent assessment by the International Atomic Energy Agency that Iran’s nuclear program has a military objective, is becoming an important issue in the American presidential campaign.

There is no such International Atomic Energy Agency assessment. The IAEA report the Times is mischaracterizing raised questions about the state of the Iranian program, and presented the evidence, mostly years old, that Iran’s critics say points towards a weapons program. (This evidence has been challenged by outside analysts–see FAIR Media Advisory, 11/16/11.)

But the IAEA report made no firm conclusion that Iran had a nuclear weapons program, and noted that its inspections of Iran’s facilities continue to show no diversion of uranium for military purposes.

Elsewhere in the Times, readers saw this in a piece by Clifford Krauss about a potential conflict over the Strait of Hormuz:
Various Iranian officials in recent weeks have said they would blockade the strait, which is only 21 miles wide at its narrowest point, if the United States and Europe imposed a tight oil embargo on their country in an effort to thwart its development of nuclear weapons.

Again, Iran has said repeatedly and emphatically that they are doing no such thing.
Interestingly, the Times has changed the Web version of the Erlanger article, removing the relevant paragraph–but without noting the error.

Overstating the case on Iran isn’t a new problem at the Times. One story last month (12/8/11) referred matter-of-factly to the “recent public debate in Israel about whether time is running out for a military strike to slow Iran’s progress toward a nuclear weapon.”

With tensions between Iran and the United States rising, and Republican presidential candidates agitating for a more confrontational stance, it is imperative that outlets like the New York Times get the story right. If the Times wishes to do better than it did during the run-up to the Iraq War, it should be more careful.

ACTION: Contact the New York Times and ask it to investigate and explain the editing of the January 5 front-page article, and to correct both misleading assertions about Iran and nuclear weapons.

CONTACT: New York Times
Public Editor Arthur Brisbane
Phone: 212-556-7652