December 15th saw the appearance of an article titled “Global nuclear watchdog IAEA ends Iran ‘weapons’ probe” on the BBC News website’s Middle East page. The use of punctuation in that headline gives early insight into the tone of the report, as does the caption to the image chosen to illustrate it.
“Iran has always insisted its nuclear programme is peaceful”
The article opens:
“The global nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, has ended its 12-year investigation into concerns that Iran might be developing nuclear weapons.
The move is seen as a key step towards lifting UN, EU and US sanctions.
The IAEA concluded that Iran conducted nuclear weapons-related research until 2003 and to a lesser extent until 2009, but found no evidence of this since.
The lifting of sanctions, agreed in a July deal with world powers, hinged on the IAEA’s findings on the issue.”
As was the case in its previous report on the same topic, the BBC refrains from providing readers with any in-depth information concerning the details of the IAEA report from December 2nd , its implications and the open questions remaining. A similarly superficial approach is taken towards the IAEA Board of Governors resolution from December 15th with no effort made to present audiences with any alternative views of the issue – as did other media organisations such as Reuters.
“Beyond the IAEA board, however, some have argued that a full examination of Iran’s past violations of its nuclear non-proliferation obligations has been sacrificed for the sake of the political agreement clinched in Vienna in July.
“Iran’s cooperation was certainly not sufficient to close the overall PMD file,” the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security, which closely tracks Iran’s nuclear dossier, said in a statement.”
Moreover, the BBC chose once again to highlight Iranian statements on the issue which the IAEA’s December 2nd report clearly showed to be inaccurate.
“Iran has strongly denied pursuing a clandestine nuclear weapons programme.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif welcomed Tuesday’s announcement by the Vienna-based IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), saying it showed the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme.”
Towards the end of the article readers are again provided with an equally misleading Iranian statement on another issue.
“In a separate development on Tuesday, a medium range missile test-fired by Iran in October was in violation of a UN resolution, sanctions monitors said.
A report by the UN Security Council’s Panel of Experts on Iran said that the Emad rocket was a ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.
Under the July nuclear deal, Iran was “called upon” to refrain from developing ballistic missiles for up to eight years.
However, Iran said the test did not violate the agreement.” [emphasis added]
BBC audiences are not provided with the necessary background which would enable them to put that statement into its correct context.
“The Security Council’s Panel of Experts on Iran said in a confidential report, first reported by Reuters, that the launch showed the rocket met its requirements for considering that a missile could deliver a nuclear weapon.
“On the basis of its analysis and findings the Panel concludes that Emad launch is a violation by Iran of paragraph 9 of Security Council resolution 1929,” the panel said. […]
The panel noted that Iranian rocket launches from 2012 and 2013 also violated the U.N. ban on ballistic missile tests.
While ballistic missile tests may violate U.N. Security Council sanctions, council diplomats note that such launches are not a violation of the nuclear deal, which is focused on specific nuclear activities by Iran. […]
Security Council resolution 1929, which bans ballistic missile tests, was adopted in 2010 and remains valid until the nuclear deal is implemented.” [emphasis added]
The question of why the self-styled “standard-setter for international journalism” continues to feed its audiences superficial and misleading reporting peppered with Iranian regime propaganda on this particular issue obviously remains open.