The New York Review of Books Gets It Wrong on Iran

It is indisputable that Iranian officials have consistently denounced the acquisition, stockpiling, and use of nuclear weapons.

For example, on March 23, 1997, then-Iranian President Rafsanjani, during an interview with Mike Wallace on 60 Minutes, was asked whether Iran was pursuing nuclear weapons. In response, Rafsanjani declared, “absolutely not. We hate that weapon.” When Wallace then, in amazingly childish and offensive fashion, challenged the President to “swear by Allah,” Rafsanjani replied, “There’s no need to take an oath. We are a frank people. We make missiles and we tell everybody that our missile industry is strong. But we’re not after nuclear bombs and we won’t go after biological and chemical weapons.”

In early January 1998, the new Iranian President Seyyed Mohammad Khatami stated, “We are not a nuclear power and do not intend to be, we have not plans to build nuclear weapons and are only seeking to have peaceful nuclear energy.”

In August 2006, Iranian President Ahmadinejad said, “Nuclear weapons have no place in Iran’s defense doctrine and Iran is not a threat to any country…We are not a threat to anybody; even our solution to the Zionist regime is a referendum.” (If Bernstein believes Israel would be destroyed by the implementation of real democracy and equal human rights for all in historic Palestine, he should say so.)

Ahmadinejad also affirmed Iran’s right to a peaceful nuclear program, including uranium enrichment, and stated that “the Iranian nation has always resolutely resisted bullying. The Iranian nation will never exchange its dignity and nobility for anything. However, some oppressor countries can not believe that a nation can be powerful and peaceful at the same time. They can not imagine that a nation can possess nuclear technology with no nuclear weapons. They just come to the wrong conclusions through wrong analyses.”

In 2007, Ahmadinejad was interviewed on CBS by Scott Pelley, who asked him, “Is it the goal of your government, the goal of this nation to build a nuclear weapon?” Ahmadinejad, after noting that a nuclear energy program is not the same as a nuclear weapons program, stated:

It is a firm “no.” I’m going to be much firmer now. I want to address all politicians around the world, statesmen. Any party who uses national revenues to make a bomb, a nuclear bomb, will make a mistake. Because in political relations right now, the nuclear bomb is of no use. If it was useful, it would have prevented the downfall of the Soviet Union. If it was useful, it would have resolved the problems the Americans have in Iraq. The U.S. has tested new generations of bombs, many thousands of warheads you have in your arsenals. It’s of no use. And also the Zionist entity, they have hundreds of warheads. It’s not going to help them. The time of the bomb is past. The parties who think that by using the bomb you can control others, they are wrong. Today we are living in the era of intellectual pursuits. You should spend your money on your people. We don’t need the bomb. For 28 years we have defended ourselves in the face of enemy onslaught. Every day we are becoming more powerful. And, again, we don’t need such weapons. In fact, we think that this is inhuman.

These sentiments have been repeated often by Ahmadinejad (and other officials, including the head of state Ali Khamenei).

Speaking at the United Nations, during the May 2010 Review Conference for members of the NPT, Ahmadinejad declared, “The nuclear bomb is a fire against humanity rather than a weapon for defense,” continuing, “The possession of nuclear bombs is not a source of pride; it is rather disgusting and shameful. And even more shameful is the threat to use or to use such weapons, which is not even comparable to any crime committed throughout the history.” The same day, during an interview with Charlie Rose, Ahmadinejad said, “We are opposed to the bomb, the nuclear bomb, and we will not build it.”

Addressing the U.N. General Assembly that September, he said, “The nuclear bomb is the worst inhumane weapon and which must totally be eliminated” and proposed “that the year 2011 be proclaimed the year of nuclear disarmament,” reaffirming Iran’s commitment to establishing a Nuclear Weapons-Free Zone in the Middle East.

One can assume Jeremy Bernstein simply dismisses these statements as further examples of sinister Iranian duplicity (after all, remember that “with the Iranians things are never quite as they appear”). This wouldn’t matter if he paid attention to the consistent conclusions of our own country’s massive intelligence gathering infrastructure, which has long maintained that Iran has no active nuclear weapons program. The IAEA has stated that it has no evidence Iran ever did. Unfortunately (for the now-questionable integrity of the New York Review of Books), Bernstein seems only to recite Netanyahu-approved propaganda.

With so much effort being expended to fear-monger about the Iranian nuclear program these days (and for the past three decades), one hopes that, as always, the words of the world’s most famous anti-colonialist, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, remain true:

“An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody sees it. Truth stands, even if there be no public support. It is self sustained.”