Time’s Iran Nuke Assumptions

There are plenty of problems with coverage of Iran right now. The most important issue to understand is that there is no evidence that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon. Since this is the basis for the current “crisis” narrative, it’s important for journalism to try to clearly differentiate what is known and what is speculation.

On that score, Time magazine’s big piece this week on U.S./Israeli relations fails. Massimo Calabresi and Jay Newton-Small write:

Despite their history of distrust, Obama and [Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu must cooperate if they are to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.

Of course, the assumption here is that Iran is actually pursuing a nuclear weapon. And it’s repeated several times in the piece:

Obama has his reasons for preferring diplomacy. A military strike by Israel would, at most, set back Tehran’s nuclear program by a year. It would also unite Iranian hard-liners and likely split the fragile international alliance arrayed against them. The only way to end the Iranian threat permanently is to get the nation to voluntarily give up the pursuit of nuclear weapons.


Netanyahu believes open-ended talks without an absolute freeze of the Iranian program will simply permit Iran to continue its pursuit of nuclear weapons and, administration officials say, Netanyahu explicitly told the President he had not decided whether he would attack Iran unilaterally.

You can spend a lot of time trying to figure out how Iran 2012 and Iraq 2002-03 are different. But on this very straightforward question, they’re very much alike.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.