07 July 2010

BBC misleads yet again on Iran

Last Thursday, the BBC carried what appeared to be an innocuous article on the resignation of Olli Heinonen, Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Safeguards at the IAEA.

Included in the article were these statements:

"Mr Heinonen's department's five-year investigation drew on Western intelligence to help to build the IAEA's case that Iran was working to develop a nuclear-armed missile.
Tehran says the intelligence is forged and that its atomic work is for civilian purposes only."

 What case, I wondered?

For those who don't know Olli Heinonen, it's important to read Porter's article "IAEA to keep heat on Iran"to understand that, in sinc with the George W. Bush administration, "Heinonen was instrumental in making a collection of intelligence documents showing a purported Iranian nuclear weapons research program the central focus of the IAEA's work on Iran. The result was to shift much of opinion among Western publics to the view that Iran had been pursuing a covert nuclear weapons program... 

Heinonen took over the safeguards department in July 2005 - the same month the George W Bush administration first briefed top IAEA officials on the intelligence collection...

The Bush administration was pushing the IAEA to use the documents to accuse Iran of having had a covert nuclear weapons program. The administration was determined to ensure that the IAEA governing board would support referring Iran to the UN Security Council for action on sanctions, as part of a larger strategy to force Iran to abandon its uranium-enrichment program.

Long-time IAEA director general Mohammed ElBaradei and other officials involved in investigating and reporting on Iran's nuclear program were immediately skeptical about the authenticity of the documents. According to two Israeli authors, Yossi Melman and Meir Javadanfar, several IAEA officials told them in interviews in 2005 and 2006 that senior officials of the agency believed the documents had been "fabricated by a Western intelligence organization".

Heinonen, on the other hand, supported the strategy of exploiting the collection of intelligence documents to put Iran on the defensive. His approach was not to claim that the documents' authenticity had been proven but to shift the burden of proof to Iran, demanding that it provide concrete evidence that it had not carried out the activities portrayed in the documents.

In fact Heinonen was putting into practice the Bush doctrine, the same doctrine that had been so successfully used in the supreme crime against Iraq - that the accused must prove its innocence.  Of course, we all know this is impossible, and the burden of proof must always be with the accusation not the defence.

I quickly rushed off the following complaint to the BBC:

"The anonymous author(s) write(s): "Mr Heinonen's department's five-year investigation drew on Western intelligence to help to build the IAEA's case that Iran was working to develop a nuclear-armed missile. Tehran says the intelligence is forged and that its atomic work is for civilian purposes only."

In fact, contrary to what the BBC writes, the IAEA has never made any such case that "Iran was working to develop a nuclear-armed missile", and it is not only Tehran that says the intelligence is forged, the Department of External Relations and Policy Coordination of the IAEA also has doubts as to whether the 'intelligence' is genuine.

These are part of the so-called "Alleged Studies" claims brought to the attention of the agency by the United States and based on the computer evidence it claims was obtained from a secret source in Iran, and which, according to Julian Borger of the Guardian, has caused a lot of controversy within the IAEA itself regarding authenticity.

As Gareth Porter has written: "Whether those documents are genuine or were fabricated has been the subject of a fierce struggle behind the scenes for many months between two departments of the IAEA (Department of External Relations and Policy Coordination & the Safeguards Department, headed by Olli Heinonen).

Some IAEA officials even began calling for a clear statement by the agency that it could not affirm the documents' authenticity after the agency obtained hard evidence in early 2008 that a key document in the collection had been fraudulently altered

Further, the IAEA has consistently stated that it has no actual evidence to back up the claims.

The draft report of the Safeguards Dept., while saying that the IAEA "assesses that Iran has sufficient information to be able to design and produce a workable implosion nuclear device" (not a missile) also includes "other passages (that) indicate the authors regard such knowledge only as a possibility, based on suspicions rather than concrete evidence", as Porter puts it.

The draft is full of words such as "has information", "may still be conducting", "From the documents presented by a number of Member States and the Agency‟s own activities, it is possible to assess...", "Iran may have developed...which could be contained...", "Based on the information in the document, the Agency assesses that it is possible that Iran...", "The Agency suspects...",  "“It is believed that Iran has developed...", "The Agency has evidence from which it is possible to assess...", "From the evidence presented to the Agency it is possible to suggest that..."

Finally the leaked draft report also includes this statement: "Overall the Agency does not believe that Iran has yet achieved the means of integrating a nuclear payload into the Shahab 3 missile"

I would kindly ask that the BBC rephrase these statements to reflect the facts of the matter, not opinions within one department at the IAEA. I would also ask the BBC to rewrite the article so that the information I have pointed out be included.

I would also like to know why the article is not authored? Who wrote the article?"

There is a deliberate attempt by the US and it's western NATO poodles to distort information so that they can eventually attack Iran - another act of naked aggression."

I'll post the reply if and when I get one.

1 comment:

David Sketchley said...

Reply from the BBC:

Dear Mr Sketchley

As previously explained, this is not the correct address to which you should send such complaints. It is not possible for me to forward your complaint to the correct department, because of the way our logging systems work. So if you would like an answer you will need to resubmit your complaint using the webform at www.bbc.co.uk/complaints.

Yours sincerely
pp Helen Boaden
Director, BBC News

OK. Submitted on 06 July.. Lets see how long they take to reply.