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General News    H3'ed 6/26/08

Ex Weapons Inspector: Iran Not Pursuing Nukes, But U.S. Will Attack Before '09

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Ritter said the public would likely become more outspoken on the Bush administration’s policies toward Iran if they understood how an attack on Iran could lead to an economic collapse here at home.

“You have to talk about what’s going to happen to the price of oil, the price of food. People have to focus on that. Iran does not pose a threat whatsoever to the average American. We’ve got this hyped up threat. We need people to understand that they are being sold a bill of goods. There is no threat. Our welfare is going out the door right now because of this policy. We have to find a way to get this to resonate.”

Intelligence vs. Smoking Guns

One of the first questions Ritter says he is asked when he explains why the administration is planning an air assault against Iran is “where’s the smoking gun.”

“People will say ‘how do you know for certain,’” Ritter said. “You know I was in the in the intelligence business for a long time and we don’t make a living off of smoking guns. That’s what politicians do. We evaluate the totality of the available information and we make informed assessments and we do it in a systematic fashion. And that’s what I’ve been doing on the issue of Iran.”

Ritter said the increased rhetoric toward Tehran by various White House officials is a key indicator in understanding the Bush administration’s intent.

“I don’t like the word intent usually because the Bush administration used that with Saddam Hussein and weapons of mass destruction,” he said. “Intent void of a factual basis is speculation. But here we do have documentation. We have a national security strategy. We have repeated statements by the current players themselves that they seek regional transformation in the Middle East inclusive of regime change in Iran. This is the policy objective of the Bush administration.

"So we have the intent. Now with the intent we have the escalation of rhetoric. So we not only have stated intent we now have statements that reinforce those intents and seek to activate this intent,” Ritter added. “And then you have the rhetoric that’s matched with the capabilities. Clearly you have the capabilities deployed in the region to act on this. We’ve seen the nature of the strike be defined down to a limited strike to one or two strikes inside Iran affiliated with the Revolutionary Guard command. So you have all of these facilitators taking place."

IAEA Report

In May, the media characterized a report by the IAEA into Iran’s uranium enrichment program as evidence that Tehran is actively pursuing a nuclear weapons program. The Bush administration held up that report as evidence that Iran is a grave threat to the United States and Israel.

But Ritter said the media misrepresented the report and likely did not thoroughly review its findings.

“We have a situation where the IAEA has published several technical reports all of which state there is no evidence Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons program. None. Zero,” Ritter said.

Ritter explained how the IAEA report was drafted.

“Information has been provided to the IAEA by member nations, intelligence information. Now the IAEA has to be very circumspect when it says this but we all know that it’s basically intelligence provided to the agency by the United States of America, a nation openly hostile to Iran, a nation that has a track record of fabricating, exaggerating, and misrepresenting intelligence data. The data that’s been provided to the IAEA has derived from a laptop computer which even the IAEA claims is of questionable providence,” he said.

Ritter said that because the United States has such a dominating role in the United Nations Security Council and in the Board of Governors the IAEA couldn’t ignore the information it receives from the United States about Iran.

“The IAEA can’t go to Iran with information that isn’t serious. So they say it’s serious and it needs to be investigated. So they go to Iran and the Iranians say, correctly so, ‘this is bullshit.’ You’re basically serving as a front to the CIA. The CIA is asking intelligence based questions about issues that are not relevant to the safeguards agreement, which, by the way, is the legally binding mandate that gives the IAEA the authority to do its work in Iran. You have to read the small print.

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Jason Leopold is Deputy Managing Editor of Truthout.org and the founding editor of the online investigative news magazine The Public Record, http://www.pubrecord.org. He is the author of the National Bestseller, "News Junkie," a memoir. Visit (more...)
 
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