Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
January 21, 2012

On Iran NYT Introduces New False Propaganda Line

Isabel Kershner, an Israeli reporter working for the New York Times, is introducing a new propaganda term about Iran's nuclear program. She writes:

Though Iran continues to insist that its nuclear program is only for civilian purposes, Israel, the United States and much of the West are convinced that Iran is working to develop a weapons program.

"Working to develop a weapons program"? What is that supposed to mean?

Since the NYT ombudsman has admonished the paper for being to casual with references to the non existing Iranian nuclear weapon program, Kersher can no longer refer to it directly.

Instead she now comes up with "is working to develop a weapons program." This phrase has, to my best knowledge, never been used in any official language and I have never seen this accusation before. What is the factual base for Kershner's assertion?

U.S. and Israeli officials have loud and openly said that Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program. They have never said that it is "working to develop a weapons program." They say flat out that Iran has not taken any decision towards a nuclear weapon program.

That is what U.S. defense secretary Panetta said on January 8 at CBS's "Face The Nation":

Are they trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No. But we know that they're trying to develop a nuclear capability. And that's what concerns us. And our red line to Iran is do not develop a nuclear weapon. That's a red line for us.
But the responsible thing to do right now is to keep putting diplomatic and economic pressure on them to force them to do the right thing. And to make sure that they do not make the decision to proceed with the development of a nuclear weapon.

Paneta thereby confirms the reported judgement of the U.S. intelligence community expressed in the National Intelligence Estimates in 2007 (pdf) and 2011 that Iran ended an alleged rudimentary nuclear weapons program in 2003 after its immediate enemy, Saddam Hussein's Iraq, was removed. It was reported just days ago that Israel's own intelligence services concurs with the U.S. intelligence assessment:

The intelligence assessment Israeli officials will present later this week to Dempsey indicates that Iran has not yet decided whether to make a nuclear bomb.

The Israeli view is that while Iran continues to improve its nuclear capabilities, it has not yet decided whether to translate these capabilities into a nuclear weapon - or, more specifically, a nuclear warhead mounted atop a missile. Nor is it clear when Iran might make such a decision.

Iran, as a member of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty has the "inalienable right" to "nuclear capabilities":

Article IV 1. Nothing in this Treaty shall be interpreted as affecting the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination ..

Israeli and U.S. intelligence services know that Iran has a civil nuclear program because Iran is very open about it and the IAEA is continuously monitoring that program. In all its 23 reports about Iran's nuclear program the IAEA has confirmed the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran. Iran's program is not in violation of any international law.

When the intelligence agencies talk about Iran's "nuclear capabilities" they mean its civil nuclear program. The intelligence agencies have also asserted that Iran has no nuclear weapons program and that Iran has made no decision to initiate one.

Iran is unlikely to ever create a nuclear weapons program as it would contradict its religious position:

The Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has issued the Fatwa that the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons are forbidden under Islam and that the Islamic Republic of Iran shall never acquire these weapons.

So how can Kersher say Iran "is working to develop a weapons program" when the intelligence agencies say that Iran has not even taken a decision towards a nuclear program and when Iran's leaders have declared that such a program would be against their core religious believes?

What is her assertion but obfuscation and stupid propaganda? There is none.

The NYT public editor Arthur S. Brisbane can be reached as Please let him know your opinion about Kershner's new propaganda line.

Posted by b on January 21, 2012 at 8:47 UTC | Permalink


So how can Kershner say Iran "is working to develop a weapons program" when the intelligence agencies say that Iran has not even taken a decision towards a nuclear program...?

As a verbatim phrase, it's an innocent enough statement, and probably true. There are all kinds of non-nuclear weapons.

There's probably a formal, technical name for putting an innocent statement into a story with a nuclear context and letting readers 'draw their own conclusions' - whether conscious or otherwise. It's just one more way expert propagandists sow seeds of doubt and division in public perceptions. Info wars aren't about overwhelming divisions of opinion. They're about keeping opinion within the 45% vs 55% range - or thereabout.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jan 21 2012 10:05 utc | 1

it is kind of like a spore from a mushroom, invisible to the naked eye. it takes hold and then after a while there are big ole mushrooms everywhere and no one knows how they got there or where they came from.

the spore knows what it must do and Ms Kershner does too.

Posted by: dan of steele | Jan 21 2012 11:13 utc | 2

The U.S. (Obama and Clinton) is no better than the media. They refer to "an illicit nuclear program" which consists of intentions that would be erases by sanctions and/or attack.

The 'geniuses' who attacked Iraq because of fake WMDs now want to attack Iran because of a fake intention to produce WMDs. And when these 'geniuses' attack and don't find the fake intentions? They'll look high and low, and won't find those intentions anywhere. What will they do?

Then the 'geniuses' will take a cue from Rumsfeld: "They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat."

Those pesky Iran intentions will be harder to find then the Iraq WMDs were. Meanwhile Israel, which the Arabs fear most in the Middle East, is laughing up its sleeve with its non-monitored nuclear program and its 200 nuclear weapons.

The basic problem, of course, as it has been for a long time, that the US can't control Iran. Nor Iraq, more and more. Syria didn't buckle either. Egypt? The US-promoted military rule might not prevail. Turkey is no longer a staunch ally and it is more friendly with Iran. Even Israel is upset. The whole ME is headed south for the US, and so the NYTimes and others have to step it up. It's called strategic communications (propaganda), and it is a high priority.

So don't blame only Isabel Kershner -- she's following orders to keep her job.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jan 21 2012 13:59 utc | 3

Well, at least it gives us a break from the Israeli's use of the phrase "illicit nuclear weapons program". I watched that phrase get born on the AIPAC website, then spread like wildfire amongst the DC sluts who are tripping over themselves to show the zionists that the only good whore is a well scripted whore.

Posted by: PissedOffAmerican | Jan 21 2012 15:30 utc | 4

Actually, I mis-spoke in my eagerness to indict the scumbag Israeli's. To be fair, the phrase was "illicit nuclear program". The term "weapons" was added occassionally, slipped in, for effect I suppose.

Posted by: PissedOffAmerican | Jan 21 2012 15:33 utc | 5

Hmmmm. Doing a search, I find that AIPAC was in fact using the phrase "illicit nuclear WEAPONS program" as far back as Nov. of 2005....

And heres the asshole Robert Gibbs, standing on the bully pulpit, reciting his lines faithfully....

"I don't know what's on their agenda, but I know what's on our agenda and I know what's on the agenda for countries around the world that are concerned about Iran's illicit nuclear weapons program," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

"It will be part of that discussion, and if Iran is unwilling to discuss their illicit nuclear weapons program, I think all that does is strengthen the hand of the international community in underscoring the obligations, again, that the Iranians are failing to live up to," Gibbs said on Air Force One.

Posted by: PissedOffAmerican | Jan 21 2012 15:46 utc | 6

And here you can find UN Ambassador Rice referring to an Iranian "illicit nuclear WEAPONS prgram".....

"We share Israel's very grave concern about the threat that Iran's illicit nuclear weapons program poses, not only to Israel....blablahblah....."

So, bottom line, why do these fuckers feel the need to stop lying to us now? Well, honestly, I don't think they do. I think that b reads to much into this, that the ommission of the word "nuclear" is simply an oversight, rather than an effort to speak honestly. Does anyone following the rhetoric used against Iran really buy into the premise that the NYTs gives a shit about responsible reportage? Damn, almost as a single entity, they propelled the United States into war with Iraq by providing the most widely read, and most replete with lies and scripted false accusation, rationale for such a war.

Posted by: PissedOffAmerican | Jan 21 2012 16:12 utc | 7

Israeli desperado reaching fever pitch…. Desperation?

What would israeli’s do next?? Fire up one of their nukes in the middle of some western city and blame it on Iran?? Frankly given the crazy linkudies and their neo-con buddies, should not be a surprise.

From boiling frog;

“You’d think all the debunked allegations and failed attempts would give the imperial hawks a bit of a pause to come up with a better concoction. At least go away for a while and rethink their strategy; no? Obviously not. Desperation can do amazingly stupid things to greed-driven, wild-eyed and blood-thirsty bullies in pursuit of expanded turf. They just came out with a new concocted scenario and allegations. This time their lead actor happens to be Azerbaijan.

Our soon-to-be-NATO member intimate ally regime in Central Asia, Azerbaijan, claims it has allegedly exposed an Iranian assassination plot and Iranian terror cell in its capital city-Baku “

and from the Turkish daily zaman (gov mouth);

Turkish-Iranian warming loses credibility as claims of terrorism emerge

Posted by: Rd. | Jan 22 2012 1:34 utc | 8

Strategic Communications are

"focused United States Government efforts to understand and engage key audiences to create, strengthen, or preserve conditions favorable for the advancement of United States Government interests, policies, and objectives through the use of coordinated programs, plans, themes, messages, and products synchronized with the actions of all instruments of national power."

The "focused United States Government efforts" include a coordinated effort by the US military, intelligence and special operations elements working with their publicists to advance US policy for world hegemony, to which Iran is a current obstacle. Truth needn't be an element of the process.

examples of Strategic Communications:
1. a fictitious plot by Iran to assassinate the Saudi ambassador
2. a fictitious plot by Iran to bomb the US Embassy or Consulate General in Turkey. (@8 above)
3. a fictitious threat by Israel to bomb Iran on its own prerogative. (as if Israel is a rogue nation w/o US control)

The latter is useful in a 'good cop - bad cop' threat to Iran. Here, France President Sarkozy is the good cop:

Western nations have voiced mounting concern that Israel could launch a preemptive attack against Tehran, deepening instability in an already volatile region.

"We need stronger, more decisive sanctions that stop the purchase of Iranian oil and freeze the assets of the central bank, and those who don't want that will be responsible for the risks of a military conflict," Sarkozy said. "Help us guarantee peace in the world. We really need you," Sarkozy said, in a direct appeal to Moscow and Beijing.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jan 22 2012 2:52 utc | 9

"Working to develop a weapons program"?

Honestly, it really does make one wonder what is next.

Perhaps it'll get to the stage of: "Planning on working towards the development of a weapons progam"

Or even to the depths of: "They would if they could, so we should continue to act as if they are".

The last one is, of course, the standard line thrown at Hamas.

After all, Hamas are depicted as an existential threat to Israel because they keep claiming that they **want** to wipe out Israel, even though there is no way that they will actually, you know, ever hope to be in the position where they can achieve that aim.

They would if they could, so we should act as if they are.
But never you mind that they can't, and that both you and they know that........

Posted by: Johnboy | Jan 22 2012 9:38 utc | 10

The problem, said the US Secretary of State, is that someone in Iran might believe "that either acquiring nuclear weapons or the breakout capacity for nuclear weapons will make Iran stronger and more dominant in the region." But that would be "an absolutely wrong calculation."

So Clinton demands that Iran must cease its fully-monitored treaty-authorized uranium enrichment program for these -- ahem -- reasons, because "it is for me - if you[sic] are thinking strategically - very much in Iran’s interests . . ." -- well, let her tell why Iran must cease doing something it is authorized -- and even encouraged* -- by treaty to do.

"So it is for me – if you are thinking strategically – very much in Iran’s interests to come to these talks in Geneva committed to working out a way to restore the confidence of the international community and to firmly, conclusively reject the pursuit of nuclear weapons, and to understand the strategic calculation at work here. Because if anyone in Iran believes that either acquiring nuclear weapons or the breakout capacity for nuclear weapons will make Iran stronger and more dominant in the region, that is an absolutely wrong calculation. Because it will trigger an arms race that will make the region less stable, more uncertain, and cause serious repercussions far beyond the Gulf."

The States concluding this Treaty, hereinafter referred to as the "Parties to the Treaty",(excerpts)

--Undertaking to cooperate in facilitating the application of International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards on peaceful nuclear activities,
--Expressing their support for research, development and other efforts to further the application, within the framework of the International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards system, of the principle of safeguarding effectively the flow of source and special fissionable materials by use of instruments and other techniques at certain strategic points,
--affirming the principle that the benefits of peaceful applications of nuclear technology, including any technological by-products which may be derived by nuclear-weapon States from the development of nuclear explosive devices, should be available for peaceful purposes to all Parties of the Treaty, whether nuclear-weapon or non-nuclear weapon States,
--Convinced that, in furtherance of this principle, all Parties to the Treaty are entitled to participate in the fullest possible exchange of scientific information for, and to contribute alone or in cooperation with other States to, the further development of the applications of atomic energy for peaceful purposes,
--Nothing in this Treaty shall be interpreted as affecting the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination and in conformity with articles I and II of this Treaty.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jan 22 2012 15:39 utc | 11

Serial liars lie serially.What else is relevant?

Posted by: dahoit | Jan 22 2012 15:42 utc | 12

The right margin seems to be broken, making reading longer comments tedious as it involves sliding the bottoms guide back and forth, back and forth.

Any way to fix this? Is it a long link or...what?

Posted by: jawbone | Jan 22 2012 16:05 utc | 13

Azerbaijan is coming into focus...

Posted by: dh | Jan 22 2012 17:24 utc | 14

"Any way to fix this?"

An irritating fix, that I resorted to, is to choose "small" for text size. Until its fixed on b's end, I think thats the best ya can do. I think it was the long link I posted that caused the problem, but not sure. b seems to have removed it, so that was probably it.

Posted by: PissedOffAmerican | Jan 22 2012 22:57 utc | 15

Report: Israel to give US only 12-hour warning before attacking Iran because Netanyahu doesn’t trust Obama
by Adam Horowitz on January 22, 2012 20
From the Israeli newspaper Ma'ariv (in Hebrew, translated by MW contributor Shmuel):

Israel: We Won't Give Advance Notice of Attack on Iran
Sunday Times reports that Israel told Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff it would give only twelve hours' warning, for fear that Obama would try to prevent [an attack].
Maariv NRG, 22/1/12

Israel informed Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey, during his visit over the weekend, that it would not request US authorisation for an attack on Iran, and that it would give only twelve hours warning before launching such an attack, according to this morning's Sunday Times.

According to the report, Netanyahu does not trust Obama and believes the President might do everything [in his power] to prevent an attack if informed in advance, for fear of rising oil prices in an election year.

continues......end excerpt.

I got an idea. Lets bomb the shit out of the Israelis instead of Iran. I mean, isn't it obvious by now that these racist pieces of shit are a threat to our security?

How's an hour's warning sound??? I, uh, wouldn't even give them that, but, uh, gee, I don't wanna be accused of being an anti-semite, so I think an hour's warning is fair, eh?

Posted by: PissedOffAmerican | Jan 22 2012 23:13 utc | 16

Thank you, b. And, POA, did you mean you changed your print size to small to make the spread less wide? Hhhmmm--OK! I'll try that if it happens again.

Posted by: jawbone | Jan 23 2012 0:22 utc | 17

for those page that contain very long links and widen everything, add the following to your stylesheet:

#content img {max-width: 95%;}
#content {max-width:700px; margin:0 auto;}

At least in Gecko (firefox) and WebKit (Safari, Chrome) based browsers this will prevent the content box of getting too wide (change the ‘700px’ to something less if you prefer). I think that should work in IE9 and Opera as well, but I’m too lazy to verify and test :-p.

Posted by: philippe | Jan 23 2012 1:54 utc | 18

It's good web courtesy to shorten long URL's into a "tiny URL" before posting.
Go to

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jan 23 2012 2:09 utc | 19

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