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Who needs defusing?
Iran -- or U.S. media?

February 7, 2005

TIME magazine has a quick article about Iran entitled "Can the U.S. Defuse Iran?". After reading the article, I thought it would be a fun exercise in the analysis of misinformation in the US media. In total, I counted seven major lies out of the nine paragraphs. Besides the author's name and the date of the article, almost everything else was in the article was misleading, false, a half-truth, or spin. If you want to know why most Americans still think that WMDs have been found in Iraq, it's because of this sort of reporting.

So, here we go:

LIE 1: Headline "Can the U.S. Defuse Iran?"

FACT: Note the headline's use of the word "Defuse" in the headline. Bombs are "defused". By using the "defuse" word, the headline is suggesting that Iran is a danger. The headline is trying to shape the reader's attitudes towards Iran before they even read the article, by implying that Iran is a bomb which needs to be "defused."

LIE 2: "As it drags out the third round of negotiations with Britain, France and Germany with no hint of a resolution, Iran is doing little to build confidence in its good intentions."

FACT: This is an over lie. Rather than "dragging out" the negotiations, Iran has requested that the EU speed up the negotiations, and the EU has refused. See: here.

Secondly, the fact that Iran has allowed unfettered inspections and has signed the Additional Protocol and has agreed to temporarily suspend enrichment are all quite MAJOR evidence of good will -- Iran was under no obligation to do any of that. And what has Iran received in return, except more demands and threats?

LIE 3: "The IAEA has discovered that despite its agreement to temporarily suspend all activities related to uranium enrichment, Iran was continuing to do maintenance work on a uranium-enrichment plant in southern Iran."

FACT: Routine maintenance which did not violate the pledge to temporarily suspend enrichment. Note also how TIME uses the word "discovered" -- as if it was a secret!

So what else has the IAEA "discovered"? Well, the Director General of the IAEA has said that the IAEA has received "good cooperation" from Iran and has found no evidence of a nuclear weapons program, something TIME seems eager to ignore. (See here)

LIE 4:"The Iranians have allegedly finished designing a prototype of a detonator for a nuclear bomb, according to an opposition group based in Paris."

FACT: Gee, I wonder why TIME didn't see fit to name this "opposition group" -- the MEK, classified as a Marxist-Islamist terrorist organization by even the US itself. But I guess telling all of that information to the readers would have undercut TIME's attempt to demonize Iran.

LIE 5:"[Iranians] insist that they have a sovereign right to enrich uranium for peaceful, civilian purposes."

FACT: The right to enrich uranium is not something that only the Iranians "insist" upon -- it is an established principle of international law and a fundamental part of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. If Iran doesn't have that right, then no other nation does either.

LIE 6: "Taking their cue from North Korea, the Iranians have seen 'that you can extend a negotiating process and still build nukes,' says Bruno Tertrais, senior research fellow at the Foundation for Strategic Research in Paris."

FACT: Note how TIME uses the status of some researcher to bolster the claim that Iran is secretly building nukes, even though the IAEA has repeatedly said it has no such evidence (something which TIME refuses to mention.) This is a fallacy known as "Appeal to Authority" -- you're supposed to believe it just because someone who is supposedly an expert says so.

But have you ever heard of this Bruno guy before? Do you know if he is trustworthy? Or if TIME is really quoting him accurately? Is Bruno stating a fact, or merely his own opinion?

LIE 7: "Many experts question whether military strikes could be assured of taking out all the country's dispersed, well-hidden nuclear facilities. Intelligence on Iran's programs is inadequate..."

FACT: Note how on one hand TIME assumes that "well-hidden" nuclear sites exist in Iran, and on the other hand admits that the intelligence on Iran is inadequate. So, TIME, if the sites are so well-hidden, how do you know they exist?

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