Kevin Drum points today to the way in which the Washington Post's editorial board is channelling the wingnut warmongering factions dissapointment over the new Iran NIE.
take a look at the front page bug for the Post's editorial coverage of the NIE. It's classic. Everyone basically agrees that the NIE's assessment that Iran is probably not pursuing a nuclear bomb is good news and provides us with an opening. Everyone except for the editorial page itself, which can barely stand the thought. Hell, even Robert Kagan agrees that this means it's time to talk with Iran. Sure, he only says that because he thinks we need to demonstrate good faith to the world before we inevitably bomb Iran anyway, but from Kagan that's still a step in the right direction. Meanwhile, the editorial board can't even go that far. They're aghast at the very idea of talks, and are upset that the new NIE might give us talk-mongers fuel for our talk-mongering fire. Sheesh.The editorial itself is a quick hash-up of rightwing talking points which, unwittingly, points up how Bush has painted himself into a diplomatic corner through his intransigence:
Were the Bush administration to abandon its insistence on a suspension of enrichment, Mr. Ahmadinejad would declare victory over the relative moderates in Iran who have recently criticized his uncompromising stance.That's hardly anyone's fault but Dubya's. The NPT says clearly that member nations have the right to enrichment as long as it isn't used for weapons-making. Stupidly demanding that Iran abandon enrichment as a precondition - something which would be the end-point of negotiations in a sane framework - left everyone with nowhere to go. It isn't Ahmadinejad's uncompromising stance which has brought us to this low point of American diplomatic acumen. Even now, the U.S. could salvage the situation if it dropped the precondition but kept the objective of Iran halting enrichment as a quid-pro-quo for Iranian concessions which would strengthen the moderates.
But I want to draw attention to one outright lie from the WaPo's editorial - one which you're going to see repeated often by those who want to bomb Iran come what may.
"Tehran has no legitimate use for enriched uranium."
Pure wingnut hokum. If Iran has no legitimate use for enriched uranium, why is Russia intending to send it (under IAEA seal) to fuel an Iranian reactor? The mere fact that the Russians have blown so hot and cold over this deal gives Iran every reason to want to keep a homegrown enrichment ability. What other nation on earth would willingly hand it's national energy security over into the safe keeping of such a prevaricating partner? Certainly not the U.S. - there would be troops and bases abounding to ensure the deal was a sticky one. That, at the end of the day, is why there's any U.S. military presence in the Middle East in the first place.
Enriched uranium for power generation is also worth billions on the international markets - the market price is at its highest point ever and is expected to keep rising for the next two decades at least. Which is one of the reasons Bush has suggested a cartel of "acceptable" producers (featuring all the usual Bush energy policy corporate welfare recipients as well as the Europeans, Australians, Chinese and Russians). Iran and other nations going it solo on enrichment directly threaten that cartel's profits.
And finally - the IAEA have stated categorically that the EU from current Iranian centrifuges cannot be further enriched from the 5% needed for power generation to the 80%+ needed for a bomb, nor diverted to a weapons program, without the Agency's knowledge. All of the enriched uranium produced to date "remains under Agency containment and surveillance" while the centrifuge cascades themselves are subjected to an annual audit by the IAEA and surpise inspections - seven have been carried out since March.
None of this is rocket science - it's freely available and easily understood knowledge which any journalist who has spent more than ten minutes researching the subject already knows.
So when you see this rightwing lie being repeated by the supposedly "liberal" media, you know where they stand.