Smintheus at Unbossed has a post up about a new Observer (the Sunday edition of The Guardian) newspaper story which supposedly reveals a tangled web of intrigue involving a British company smuggling Russian black market weapons-grade uranium to Iran, via Sudan, using Al Qaeda members. Clive Cussler, eat your heart out!
Smintheus smells a propoganda rat very like the one which planted the Guardian story back in May about Iran's summer offensive in Iraq - and he's right to do so.
Looking hard at the story, the source turns out to be an anonymous customs and excise spokesman. The story is written to look like a named British MP might be a second source, but a moment's reflection shows the MP is responding to the Guardian's request for a comment on something he didn't have prior knowledge of. The entire story is peppered with phrases like "Investigators believe it was intended for export to Sudan and on to Iran" and "British agents believe Russian black-market uranium was destined for Sudan". They don't know - they believe. And they have evidence that the shipment was then to be moved on to Iran but that evidence isn't given so it's impossible to evaluate how good it is. It might be a simple smokescreen for an entirely different destination or it might just be crap. My maybes are just as good as the Guardian's maybes.
Then there's that whole Al Qaeda involvement thing - the Guardian doesn't address it in their piece but I'd need some far more solid evidence of Al Qaeda/Iran collusion than has ever been presented by the neocon noise machine before I'd believe that. If someone told me Al Qaeda set it up so Iran could be a scapegoat and the real destination was Al Qaeda in Pakistan, I'd believe that sooner. It would make more sense.
And how much weapons-grade uranium? That's a critical ('scuze the pun) piece of evidence for evaluating how serious this plot might be and whether the material might be for a bomb, plural bombs, or some medical apparatus. It might even mean the Iranian enrichment program is in serious difficulties. We aren't told. That's the second biggest smelly part of this story.
The biggest smelly part? The plot was disrupted in 2006, to which Smintheus asks the obvious: "so why are we hearing about it now?"
I would suggest that, since the last attempt at fearmongering fell through in March - the "uranium from the Congo" nonsense - it's taken the spinners at Cheney's office this long to come up with a new story for their useful idiots to echo.