Westminster Committee on Iran
A complaint was issued today to the Press Complaints Commission
concerning an article published in the Daily Telegraph on 12 September which
claimed that enriched uranium has disappeared from Iran's nuclear facility in
Isfahan. Quoting an unnamed nuclear official the article, entitled 'Iran renews
nuclear weapons development', alleged that nuclear material equivalent to that
of six atomic bombs have disappeared from Isfahan and are believed to have been
relocated to covert installations spotted by American spy satellites.
However the report of International Atomic Energy Agency
published on 15th September states that there is no missing nuclear
material and that "all nuclear material at the Uranium Conversion Facility in
Isfahan remains under Agency containment and surveillance". Responding to the
Telegraph article, IAEA's media head, Melissa Fleming, said that the allegations
are "fictious" and pointed out that "uranium is not enriched at Isfahan as the
Telegraph story states but at the fuel enrichment plant in Natanz."
The complaint issued today from the Westminster Committee on
Iran, raises wider issues of media impartiality when reporting on Iran and
raises concerns about the use of unnamed sources and sensationalist headlines.
It also points out that the co-author of the piece, Con Coughlin, is
none other than the journalist who, with the help of unnamed intelligence
sources revealed link between the 9/11 hijacker, Mohammed Ata, and Iraqi
intelligence which was latter proved to be inaccurate. On 24 January 2007,
relying on an unnamed "European defence official" Coughlin alleged that North
Korea is helping Iran prepare a nuclear weapons test. In December the Telegraph
ran a headline article, also by Coughlin, claiming that Iran was "grooming Bin
Laden's successor". Both stories were questioned by Middle East and military
experts, and neither has since been substantiated. Jeremy Bowen, the BBC's
Middle East correspondent described the Bin Laden claims as "wholly implausible"
and pointed out that Al Quaeda, a Sunni organisation would not be supported by
the Shia administration in Iran.
A spokesman for the Westminster Committee on Iran said today:
"The challenge by the IAEA regarding the accuracy of this article
needs to be examined. Whilst we recognise the quoting of unnamed sources as an
essential aspect of news reporting, we ask the Press Complaints Commission to
assess whether there are any grounds to find that this practice has been
misused. Whilst we respect the need to keep sources confidential, the media must
recognise that following their collective failure to adequately examine the case
for war against Iraq, the onus is on them to not to ensure impartial and
accurate reporting on Iran. Where stories might impact on foreign policy there
should be some mechanism for journalists to demonstrate to the PCC, in strict
confidence, the reliability of their sources."
... Payvand News - 09/21/08 ... --