Media Microscope – Nuclear Knockout
Jul 31, 2015 | Allon Lee
Whatever the merits of the P5+1 agreement on Iran’s nuclear program, its significance was not lost on the local media.
ANU Professor Amin Saikal told ABC Radio Melbourne 774 “Mornings” host Jon Faine (July 15) that Iranian objections to military site inspections are reasonable to prevent “military secrets [becoming] widely known, particularly” because Israel “has kept threatening Iran with military attacks.”
Faine responded, “does Iran drop the rhetoric of wiping Israel off the face of the map?”
Incredibly, Saikal said, “I think they have dropped that rhetoric… particularly since the rise of Hassan Rouhani to power.”
Yet five days prior, Rouhani had attended Iran’s annual “al-Quds Day” rally where “Death to Israel” was loudly chanted, while the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has repeatedly tweeted recently about eradicating Israel.
The next day Faine told the ABC’s Barrie Cassidy that PM Tony Abbott sounded “as if he…wants to support the US…alliance. On the other hand, he doesn’t want to upset…supporters, in particular from the Jewish community.”
On July 21, Deakin University’s Scott Burchill told Faine that the deal would pass “although it will upset the Israel lobby and the Congress that is basically beholden to that lobby.”
Reza Merashi, the director of the pro-Iranian American lobby group National Iranian American Council, told Fran Kelly that Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu opposed the November 2013 deal but recently called it a “good deal…we should stick with” and Israelis have “learnt over time” that deals are not as bad as they initially thought, ABC Radio National “Breakfast” (July 15).
Republican John LeBoutillier told Kelly the alternative to the agreement was not war but a better deal, pointing out that the US shifted from spontaneous inspections of military sites to letting Iran have 24 days to answer requests. “We had all the leverage… they… need the deal…and [we] let them squirm out,” he said. But US Secretary of State John Kerry adviser Joseph Cirincione said with current techniques 24 days is insufficient to hide nuclear materials, ABC RN “Breakfast” (July 16).
Jerusalem Post correspondent Seth Franzmann told Patricia Karvelas lifting sanctions “encourages…the chaos that the rest of the region has been plunged into…and I think…that’s not just a threat to Israel,” ABC News Radio (July 15).
The Australian editorialised (July 18) its hope that Iran would “eschew its delinquent ways”, claimed “Nixon was reviled… for his opening to China” and said that “many in the Arab world are increasingly seeing the Shia branch of Islam as a force for modernisation to be encouraged in the face of Sunni jihadist extremism.” In fact, the only support flowing to Iran in the Sunni Arab world is from likeminded terror outfits benefitting from its largesse.
In the same edition, Australian foreign editor Greg Sheridan slammed the agreement as a “strategic capitulation” and said “within a few short years every single notional restriction…[would be] lifted, except that Iran promises not to acquire nuclear weapons.”
The Spectator (July 18) commented, “Nixon’s efforts weren’t greeted with a flurry of placards proclaiming ‘Death to America’ and ‘Death to Israel’.”
SBS TV “World News” reporter Prue Lewarne (July 15) said that in Vienna, Iranian journalists are “especially overjoyed… having witnessed… the moment their nation was given the chance to end its isolation.” Not surprising – Iran is second only to China for imprisoning journalists.
AIJAC’s Colin Rubenstein warned the agreement “does not dismantle…Iran’s illegal nuclear program…it legitimises Iran as a nuclear threshold state”, Herald Sun (July 16).
The Courier Mail (July 18) wanted a “recognition [that] any involvement by Iran in politics in the Gulf or Middle East…would cause sanctions to…be reimposed.”
The UK Telegraph‘s Con Coughlin observed that “the beaming smiles on the faces of the Iranian negotiating team [revealed] who had emerged as the undisputed winners,” Canberra Times (July 18) while Daily Telegraph columnist Piers Akerman recalled that “John Howard warned… an Obama victory would be a boost for terrorists but… didn’t reckon [it] would also ramp up a nuclear arms race in the Middle East,” (July 18).
A credulous Age (July 16) concurred with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s assessment that “the world has breathed a sigh of relief”. Of course he did, he’s selling the S-300 missile defence system to Iran and plans many more arms sales.
Sensibly, the Sydney Morning Herald (July 16) sounded more equivocal, saying the “likely outcome is a longer so-called ‘breakout time’ for making a bomb, from two or three months to more like a year.”