Is the Media Exaggerating the Iranian Nuke Threat?

If Iran is open to U.N. inspections, it's probably not constructing nuclear weapons

Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, reaffirmed
Monday that a date would soon be set for the International Atomic
Energy Agency to inspect the planned nuclear enrichment facility near
Qom about which the Iranian government informed the IAEA on Monday a
week ago.

If Iran really does permit full, ongoing IAEA inspections
of the facility, then it cannot be used for weapons production.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton admitted Sunday that Iran cannot use
the Natanz plant for bomb-making because it is being regularly
inspected by the UN.

Scott Ritter, an experienced inspector himself, dispels the myths about the new Qom facility
and urges against new economic sanctions on Iran as counter-productive.
Greater transparency and more inspections should be the demand of the
West, he says.

I made the same point on MSNBC on Monday with Nora O'Donnell:

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And no here's something you won't read in major American newspapers or see on American television.

The USG Open Source Center translated remarks to Iranian
television of General Hoseyn Salami, commander of the Iranian
Revolutionary Guards Air Force concerning Iran's Monday missile tests
(Islamic Republic of Iran News Network Television (IRINN), Monday,
September 28, 2009):

Gen. Salami said, "as long as our enemies
act within a political domain, our behavior will be completely
political. However, if they want to leave the domain of political
action and enter the domain of military threat, then our action will be
exactly and completely military."

Many Western media reports implied that the missile tests
were launched along with threats to wipe out Israel. But note that the
commanding officer overseeing them explicitly restated Iran's "no first
strike" pledge. To my knowledge, no current high official in the
Iranian executive has threatened war against Israel, which in any case
would be foolhardy given Israel's nuclear arsenal (see below). Iranian
officials do say they hope the "Zionist regime" will collapse as the
Soviet Union did.

The report also said:

Salami said the strategic objective in
staging the war game was "to demonstrate the Iranian nation's
resolution in defending revolutionary and national values and ideals as
well as to make a new attempt to upgrade the level and quality of the
Islamic Republic's deterrence against any probable threat given the
current political and international atmosphere."

Salami linked the tests strongly to Iran's defensive needs
and pointed out they came before the anniversary of Iraq's 1980 attack
on Iran, which kicked off a highly destructive 8-year war that killed
on the order of 250,000 Iranians. (The United States supported Iraq in
that war.) The trauma of being invaded by a rapacious enemy at a moment
of national weakness after the 1979 revolution has deeply informed
Iranian political leaders' views of the world ever since.

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