RS: English-language media draws focus on non-existing Iranian nukes
The media constantly refers to Iran's “pursuit of nuclear weapons,” despite the fact that neither the United States nor Iran even mentioned existing Iranian nukes.
A survey of English-language news found that there are mentions of Iran's non-existing nukes more than actual existing Israeli and North Korean arsenals, according to a study by Responsible Statecraft.
All three countries have been headlining news lately. After the alleged discovery of 84% enriched uranium in Iran, the Biden administration urged "Israel" to do what it sees fit toward preventing Iran from building a nuke.
After months of escalation between North Korea and South Korea, US officials have been holding drills for a North Korean nuclear attack.
Journalists are to cover government policy issues and inform the public. However, English-language coverage reflects on what issues deserve attention and reveals the way they cover the news, said Responsible Statecraft.
North Korea, according to the US, is an adversarial state which has the power to strike inside America, and yet English-language media finds the non-existing Iranian nuclear bombs more interesting to discuss.
The late US secretary of state Colin Powell privately argued in 2015, that “Iranians can’t use [a nuclear weapon] if they finally make one. The boys in Tehran know 'Israel' has 200, all targeted on Tehran, and we have thousands.”
Half of respondents did not know that 'Israel' has nukes
According to Responsible Statecraft, in 2021, a poll found that 60% of the American population believed that Iran had nukes, while 23% said that they did not know. Interestingly enough, half of the respondents on this poll did not even know that "Israel" is in possession of nukes.
“In other words, more than four-fifths of the public doesn’t know the correct answer to a simple question about a matter of fact on one of the most high-profile foreign policy issues of the last 15 years,” foreign policy commentator Daniel Larison wrote in 2021. “That is what decades of misinformation and propaganda will get you.”
The media constantly refers to Iran's “pursuit of nuclear weapons,” despite the fact that neither the United States nor Iran even mentioned existing Iranian nukes. Vague and inaccurate information is often portrayed in English-language media regarding this issue.
“Hawks make a constant effort to promote falsehoods about foreign threats in order to frighten the public into acquiescing to more aggressive policies, and eventually they use those falsehoods to agitate for military action,” Larison added.
Over the past 12 years, the word "Iran" or "Iranian" was mentioned with the word "nuclear" or "atomic" in an average of 1.46 times per million words of newsprint in English-language media. To compare, North Korea was similarly mentioned in that exact same context 0.247 times per million words. To make matters more curious, "Israel" was mentioned with the word "nuclear" 0.0117 times per million words. The occupation's existing nuclear weapons were barely mentioned. These results were established by searching News on the Web (NOW) Corpus, a journalistic writing database from 20 different countries with daily updates.
Iran-US nuclear agreements since the 2000s
The Iranian nuclear program has been the U.S.'s central concern ever since discovering uranium enrichment facilities in Iran in the early 2000s. The CIA believes that Iran does not wish to build a nuclear bomb since 2003. However, with the Iranian government still enriching uranium, the US has threatened to attack Iran to prevent it from possessing nuclear weapons by imposing sanctions.
Read more: CIA: US doubts Iran's intentions in resuming nuclear weapons program
As such, Iran decided to limit its nuclear activities in 2015 in exchange for lifting the international economic embargo the US imposed on Iran. Former U.S. President Donald Trump tore up the deal.
The Biden administration had promised to rejoin the nuclear deal but continued to postpone signing the ready draft.
A similar situation was viewed with North Korea in the 1990s when North Korea agreed to restrict its activities in exchange for international energy aid. Both parties accused the other of violating the agreement up until Bush pulled out of the deal back in 2002. With the absence of the deal, North Korea tested its first nuclear warhead only four years later, Responsible Statecraft highlighted.
North Korea is still officially at war with South Korea, a US ally. Former U.S. President Donald Trump threatened North Korea with "fire and fury" in response to its missile tests in 2017.
Ironically enough, if a catastrophic war were to take place, Iran does not yet have the same ability to retaliate against American cities that North Korea does.
In addition to that, "Israel" has had a nuclear arsenal since 1967 with several hundred warheads. English-language media are expected to pay less attention to the Israeli arsenal.
According to Responsible Statecraft, the near-total silence is on purpose. The Nixon administration asked "Israel" to not make any “visible introduction of nuclear weapons.” since publicly testing a bomb would provoke international interference, even since the Israeli nuclear program was discovered.
As such, journalist Sam Husseini documented years of how American politicians avoid speaking of the Israeli nuclear program, in an attempt to keep up the charade. Paradoxically, as "Israel" keeps its activities a secret, it spent the last three decades raising the alarm about Iran's nuclear activities, portraying Tehran as the greatest threat.
Read more: “Israel” in Hot Water over Iran’s Nuclear Program