TARGETING IRAN: The BBC Propaganda Begins

Iran – The Last Hurrah

Writing in The New Yorker magazine this month, the renowned investigative journalist Seymour Hersh reported US plans for an attack on Iran. A former high-level intelligence official told Hersh:

“This is a war against terrorism, and Iraq is just one campaign. The Bush Administration is looking at this as a huge war zone. Next, we’re going to have the Iranian campaign. We’ve declared war and the bad guys, wherever they are, are the enemy. This is the last hurrah – we’ve got four years, and want to come out of this saying we won the war on terrorism.” (Seymour M. Hersh, ‘The coming wars,’ The New Yorker, January 17, 2005)

Hersh added:

“In my interviews, I was repeatedly told that the next strategic target was Iran.”

Ian Traynor reported in the Guardian this week that Western concern over Iran’s suspected nuclear programme has been growing since 2003 when it was revealed that Tehran had been conducting secret nuclear activities for 18 years in violation of treaty obligations. Traynor wrote:

“The International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna has had inspectors in the country throughout the period. While finding much that is suspect, the inspectors have not found any proof of a clandestine nuclear bomb programme.” (‘Special forces “on the ground” in Iran,’ Ian Traynor, The Guardian, January 17, 2005)

Remarkably, in an almost exact repeat of events in 2002 and 2003, the BBC is now reflexively boosting the US claim that Iran presents a threat to the West.

On yesterday’s BBC1 lunchtime news, diplomatic correspondent James Robbins declared that US relations with Iran were “looking very murky because of the nuclear threat”. (BBC1, 13:00 News, January 20, 2005)

Robbins meant, of course, the +alleged+ nuclear threat from Iran.

On the BBC’s 18:00 news, Robbins again spoke of Iran “where the President is confronting the nuclear threat”. (BBC1, 18:00 News, January 25, 2005)

Is this balanced, objective reporting by the BBC?

Even as the staggering catastrophe that has befallen Iraq continues to be played out, the BBC and other media are yet again preparing the public mind for war. If the public can be convinced that this latest ‘threat’ is real, then politicians can again unleash their bombers with impunity.

How many more innocent people have to die before journalists wake up to their moral responsibility to protect human life, to treat Third World nations as something more than Western playthings, to challenge warmongering propaganda, and to develop their powers of independent, rational thought?


The goal of Media Lens is to promote rationality, compassion and respect for others. In writing letters to journalists, we strongly urge readers to maintain a polite, non-aggressive and non-abusive tone.

Write to James Robbins:
Email: [email protected]

Write to Helen Boaden, director of BBC News
Email: [email protected]

Write to Roger Mosey, head of BBC TV news
Email: [email protected]