Reuters reported this week that Catherine Ashton, the European Union's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and chief nuclear negotiator for the P5+1, has high hopes for the new round of talks with Iran resuming May 23rd in Baghdad and will approach the meeting as a "serious set of discussions that can lead to concrete results."
Sounds positive enough, especially when coupled with the statement Ashton made at the end of last month's meeting in Istanbul. "We have agreed that the Non-Proliferation Treaty forms a key basis for what must be serious engagement, to ensure all the obligations under the NPT are met by Iran while fully respecting Iran's right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy."
However, another comment made by Ashton on Friday is cause for considerable concern. She told reporters in Brussels, "My ambition is that we come away with the beginning of the end of the nuclear weapons programme in Iran. I hope we'll see the beginnings of success."
Such a statement is certainly alarming. Despite the hysterical cries of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his right-wing acolytes here in the U.S., both Western and Israeli intelligence, along with the IAEA, have consistently confirmed that Iran has no nuclear weapons program.
One would assume that the chief P5+1 negotiator would understand and acknowledge this simple - and vitally important - fact. Perhaps Ashton's recent private audience with Netanyahu in Jerusalem was more dangerous and detrimental to the negotiations than one would even expect.
(Of course, the sheer absurdity of Ashton's meeting with the Prime Minister of a state that is not a signatory of the NPT, has an undeclared stockpile of hundreds of nuclear warheads, is a constant violator of international law and perpetrator of war crimes, and which is in consistent breach of countless Security Council resolutions goes without saying. That Netanyahu would have any role whatsoever in these discussions, let alone issuing demands to both the U.S. government and Ashton herself, proves beyond a shadow of a doubt how designed for failure these negotiations were from the start.)
In one of the most embarrassing examples of published propaganda over the Iranian nuclear program to date, The Associated Press today "reported" that it has obtained an undated "computer-generated drawing" of "an explosives containment chamber of the type needed for nuclear arms-related tests that U.N. inspectors suspect Tehran has conducted" at its Parchin military complex. The news agency says it was bequeathed this rendering "by an official of a country tracking Iran's nuclear program who said it proves the structure exists."
One version of the AP exclusive contains this detail:
That official said the image is based on information from a person who had seen the chamber at the Parchin military site, adding that going into detail would endanger the life of that informant. The official comes from an IAEA member country that is severely critical of Iran's assertions that its nuclear activities are peaceful and asserts they are a springboard for making atomic arms.What mysterious country could that possibly be, one wonders?! The answer is so painfully obvious as to make AP scoopster George Jahn's attempts at anonymity patently ridiculous and pathetic. Jahn, unsurprisingly, has a long history of silly reporting on the Iran nuclear issue.
This debunked for half a year now.
The story also notes that former IAEA official Olli Heinonen, who himself has a long history of pushing dubious information about Iran's nuclear file, said that the computer graphic provided to the press is "'very similar' to a photo he recently saw that he believes to be the pressure chamber the IAEA suspects is at Parchin." Heinonen added that "even the colors of the computer-generated drawing matched that of the photo."
Pretty convincing, huh? Ok, here's the computer drawing this whole thing is about:
Yes, really. That's it. Really. No, please stop laughing and believe me. That's really the thing they're talking about. Yes, seriously. I mean it.
These are the depths to which propaganda about the Iranian nuclear program have sunk. It's not even clever anymore, it's just stupid.
Just in case anyone is interested, I have successfully uncovered the true identities of the crack Israeli computer graphics team that came up with that drawing:
May 13, 2012 - For those who have forgotten, "b" over at the excellent Moon Of Alabama blog was quick to remind us about the "rather infamous drawings of mobile bio-weapon laboratories Colin Powell presented to the United Nations Security Council as 'proof' for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq":