‘NY Times’ fearmongers about the Iran nuclear deal, while ignoring Israel’s efforts to sabotage it

One U.S. publication just covered the stalled negotiations over the Iran nuclear deal fairly and honestly. Another ran a distorted, alarmist report that could have been written by Israel’s Hasbara Central propaganda department. The valuable report was in Responsible Statecraft, a new outlet that is gaining respect and influence but is still small. The biased article is on page 7 of today’s New York Times.

Let’s start with the Times. The fearmongering is right in the headline: “Iran Nears an Atomic Milestone.” The first sentence says, “Iran has come within roughly a month of having enough material to fuel a single nuclear weapon. . .” Paragraph after paragraph sound the alarm: “Iran has not been this close to a weapon capability since before President Obama agreed to the 2015 nuclear accord.” David E. Sanger and William J. Broad do perfunctorily note that “Iran continues to insist that it has no desire for a nuclear arsenal,” but then they go straight back to the warnings.

Nearly left out is Israel. You have to read down to paragraph 19 to learn that this April Iran “started enriching its uranium stockpile to 60 percent after its main nuclear site was sabotaged — almost certainly by Israel. . .” You nowhere find out that Israel has for many years been conducting a murderous campaign inside Iran, which included assassinating a nuclear scientist named Mohsen Fakhrizadeh last November. Nor does the Times explain that former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu spent a decade trying to sabotage the nuclear deal, including his provocative 2015 address to the U.S. Congress, and even tried to provoke the U.S. into attacking Iran. 

Let’s turn to the Responsible Statecraft article, which also appeared today. Ryan Costello takes a calm look at why the U.S./Iran negotiations have stalled, and makes suggestions to get them back on track. He doesn’t hide Israel’s efforts to undermine the talks. The U.S., led by Rob Malley, joined the negotiations in Vienna, and on April 9 “hailed progress amid a constructive environment.” The good news frightened Netanyahu, so he acted:

Two days later, the Israelis, presumably, triggered an explosion at the Natanz enrichment site, causing a blackout and knocking many of Iran’s first generation centrifuges offline. Breaking with precedent, Israel had reportedly given the United States less than two hours’ notice before proceeding with the covert operation, which left no time for the Biden administration to caution against or convince Israel to call off the attack.

Iran’s regime is regarded as hard-line, especially after any remaining moderates were routed in the June elections. But no government anywhere could just ignore ongoing murderous attacks inside its national territory. Costello quotes a senior Iranian official:

The West seems unaware of how much we have suffered, how humiliated we feel after the assassinations of [Qasem] Soleimani [the top general Trump ordered killed in January 2020] and Fakhrizadeh, how angry we feel about so many covert operations, how painful our strategic patience has been.

Costello faults the Biden administration for moving back to the negotiating table too slowly. He also says that maintaining “maximum pressure” against Iran through economic sanctions endangers the talks. And he closes with a warning, which is even more ominous after the Afghanistan tragedy:

The path ahead will not be easy. But we know that max pressure has failed and the United States and Iran might not be able to avoid a disastrous war if Iran chooses its own form of maximum pressure. 

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