February 25, 2018
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Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting: Peter Hart

by Peter Hart

When Reporters Talk About Iran and 'the World,' They Mean Something Else

When US journalists talk about what "the world" thinks of Iran's nuclear program, it's important to remember that they're not usually talking about "the world"– just one very powerful part of it.

Here's how Ray Suarez of the PBS NewsHour put it (10/16/13) during an interview with New York Times reporter Michael Gordon:

From the very beginning of this confrontation, Iran has insisted it is not seeking the means to make a nuclear weapon, that it is enriching radioactive materials in order to have electric power plants and medical uses.

The rest of the world has been saying, "If you need those things, we will get them for you and don't want you to enrich."  Has Iran explained why it must retain the ability to enrich to the levels that you have been talking about?

If by "the rest of the world," one means the US, Israel and the countries on the UN Security Council, then this could be correct.

But if by "the world" one means, well, most of the world, then the answer is a little different. As Noam Chomsky (FAIR Blog, 2/18/10) commented back in 2008 about a New York Times that made the same false assertion:

To take another illustration of the depth of the imperial mentality, New York Times correspondent Elaine Sciolino writes that "Iran's intransigence [about nuclear enrichment] appears to be defeating attempts by the rest of the world to curtail Tehran's nuclear ambitions." The rest of the world happens to exclude the large majority of the world: the Non-Aligned Movement, which forcefully endorses Iran's right to enrich uranium, in accord with the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). But they are not part of the world, since they do not reflexively accept US orders.

The Non-Aligned Movement–an organization representing 120 countries and more than half the world's population–has consistently backed Iran's right to enrich uranium for a civilian nuclear program (Antiwar.com, 8/31/12). And as Alice Slater (Commondreams, 8/28/12) wrote, it also backs the abolition of nuclear weapons–something elite media tend not to report on much. Maybe because they don't count the Non-Aligned Movement as being part of "the world"–not an important part, anyway.

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