BBC News promotes Iranian missile ‘deterrent’ propaganda

In the past couple of days the BBC News website has produced two articles on the topic of Iranian ballistic missile tests:Iran missiles 1

Iran ‘conducts new ballistic missile tests’” March 8th 2016

Iran ‘launches two new ballistic missiles’” March 9th 2016

The earlier article includes unqualified amplification of Iranian regime propaganda:

“The Revolutionary Guards said in a statement that the tests demonstrated the country’s “deterrent power”. […]

The Revolutionary Guards’ statement said the tests were intended “to show Iran’s deterrent power and also the Islamic Republic’s ability to confront any threat against the [Islamic] Revolution, the state and the sovereignty of the country”. […]

Both articles promote the Iranian interpretation of the part of the UNSC resolution adopting the JCPOA which relates to ballistic missiles.Iran missiles 2

” [UNSC] Resolution 1929, which barred Iran from undertaking any work on ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads, was terminated after a nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers was implemented two months ago. A new resolution, 2231, then came into force that “calls upon” Iran not to undertake such activity.

Iran says it does not have nuclear weapons and will continue missile development.”

The UNSC backgrounder on the topic states:

“Paragraph 3 of Annex B of resolution 2231 (2015) calls upon Iran not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.”


“All these restrictions shall apply until the date eight years after the JCPOA Adoption Day (18 October 2015) or until the date on which the IAEA submits a report confirming the Broader Conclusion, whichever is earlier.”

The topic of the agreement’s ambiguous wording on ballistic missiles has long been among the issues raised by critics of the JCPOA but of course the BBC’s enthusiastic coverage of the P5+1 talks with Iran did not include enabling audiences to hear those voices. 

The second BBC report states:Iran missile pic Hebrew writing

“The missiles were produced by Iranian experts and the “successful” drills were aimed at showcasing the country’s power, the Revolutionary Guards said, according to Iran’s English-language Press TV channel.

They had the phrase “Israel must be wiped out” written on them, the Fars news agency reported, AP said.”

Later on, however, readers are again told that:

“While any missile of a certain size could in theory be used to carry a nuclear warhead, Iran says its missiles are for use solely as a conventional deterrent.” [emphasis added]

Notably, the BBC elected not to tell its audiences about an additional segment of AP’s reporting of the material put out by the semi-official Fars news agency which rather contradicts the passive messaging of ‘deterrence’ seen in the BBC’s coverage.

“Fars quoted Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the head of the Revolutionary Guard’s aerospace division, as saying the test was aimed at showing Israel that Iran could hit it.

“The 2,000-kilometer (1,240-mile) range of our missiles is to confront the Zionist regime,” Hajizadeh said. “Israel is surrounded by Islamic countries and it will not last long in a war. It will collapse even before being hit by these missiles.””

Speaking to the ISNA agency, Hajizadeh apparently added: “The reason we designed our missiles with a range of 2,000 kms is to be able to hit our enemy the Zionist regime from a safe distance.”

It is of course precisely such omission which last year led a BBC journalist to promote the inaccurate claim that Israel is “not under threat by Iran”. 

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