Breaking news: Iranian President Ahmadinejad has announced that the 15 British sailors and marines will be freed. He says that he has pardoned them as a gift to the British people to celebrate Easter and the birth of the prophet Mohammed.
Eliot Abrams had a pretty good day yesterday; the spin of the great propaganda media outlet wheel stopped on ABC News, and the story wheel stopped on “nuclear”. So this nutso anonymous nonstory got slipped to Disney/ABC, who not only ran it, but also slipped it back into a question at Bush’s news conference, Bush comments, the rest of the media pick it up as a new story, etc, etc. thus completing the bullshit cycle. Elliot loves it when his stories get that re-injection thing. This was a total propaganda success. No real news, big mushroom cloud scare, totally anonymous. Congrats to the ISOG for continuing to fool America.
Brian Ross and Christopher Isham Report:
Iran has more than tripled its ability to produce enriched uranium in the last three months, adding some 1,000 centrifuges which are used to separate radioactive particles from the raw material.
The development means Iran could have enough material for a nuclear bomb by 2009, sources familiar with the dramatic upgrade tell ABC News.
The sources say the unexpected expansion is taking place at Iran’s nuclear enrichment plant outside the city of Natanz, in a hardened facility 70 feet underground.
The addition of 1,000 new centrifuges, which are not yet operational, means Iran is expanding its enrichment program at a pace much faster than U.S. intelligence experts had predicted.
“If they continue at this pace, and they get the centrifuges to work and actually enrich uranium on a distinct basis,” said David Albright of the Institute for Science and International Security, “then you’re looking at them having, potentially having enough highly enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon in 2009.”
Previous predictions by U.S. intelligence had cited 2015 as the earliest date Iran could develop a weapon.
See yesterday’s post for Scott Ritter’s opinion. Basically there is nothing new in this story; the Iranians continue to struggle with the whole centrifuge, as they have for many, many years, and the chances of anything changing is low. Ten years or more, and they have less than two hundred functioning centrifuges. What does that tell you?
This story is such bull that Glenn Greenwald was moved to slam it at Salon.
It just seemed inconceivable that such an obviously significant claim would be emphatically advanced by ABC News with such skimpy information and using such shoddy methods.
Yet it is now the following day. The article has provoked the predictable reaction. And President Bush was asked about the report today during his press conference, where the questioner specifically stated that ABC News has reported that Iran may have a nuclear bomb by 2009 (transcript will be posted when available). That is now a claim that is being treated as credible, because it has the stamp of ABC News on it, and it has now been injected into the public debate over what to do about Iran.
But the report is worthless and a complete violation of basic journalistic standards. It provides no information whatsoever about the “sources” — are they government sources, private individuals, intelligence operatives, Iranian, American or from some other nation, people with a discernible agenda or bias? The ABC News report provides no information whatsoever. What possible excuse is there for that? And why would a report attributed exclusively to a term so vague as to be impoverished of any meaning — “sources” — be the slightest bit credible or even worthy of publication?
Sean-Paul Kelley, who writes frequently (and insightfully) about Iran and recently returned from a long trip there, notes several reasons why the “substance” of the claim is so suspect. In a separate post, he notes that the whole claim about the Iranian nuclear progress seems to hinge on a huge condition which the article never suggests has been fulfilled. In fact, once you get past the first two sensationalistic paragraphs that throw around “2009″ as the target date when the Evil Iranians are going to be able to create the Mushroom Clouds over our cities, it is actually difficult, if not impossible, even to discern what this ABC News report really is even claiming.
So within less than 24 hours, a completely shoddy, unreliable and vague ABC News report translates into a straightforward statement at the President’s Press Conference that “Iran will be capable of building a nuclear bomb within two years.”
There were several other stories but that is enough for today. The others will be discussed tomorrow.