Why BBC News website audiences might be confused

For years the BBC News website has uncritically amplified Iranian messaging on the subject of that country’s nuclear programme by using an unhelpful ‘he said-she said’ formula.

“The West suspects Iran of seeking a nuclear arms capability.

Tehran denies the claim, saying its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes only.”

And:

“The powers suspect Iran of seeking nuclear weapons, which Iran denies.

Iran says its nuclear programme is for purely peaceful purposes.”

And:

“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.”

A similar statement was found in an article which appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on August 7th.

“Iran has long been suspected of seeking to develop nuclear weapons – an allegation it denies, saying it is pursuing civilian nuclear energy.”Iranian nucl scientist

That report, however, was titled “Iranian nuclear scientist Shahram Amiri executed for treason“.

“An Iranian scientist who provided the US with information about the country’s nuclear programme has been hanged for treason, the government has confirmed.

Shahram Amiri was executed for giving “vital information to the enemy”, a judiciary spokesman said. […]

On Sunday a spokesman for Iranian judiciary, Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei, told reporters: “Through his connection with the United States, Amiri gave vital information about the country to the enemy,” “

BBC News website audiences might well now be pondering the question of why Iran found it necessary to hand down a death sentence to a scientist who allegedly gave “vital information” about a programme they have for years been informed was “peaceful” and aimed solely at “pursuing civilian nuclear energy”.

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