U.S. should not demonize Iran for their alleged quest to obtain nuclear weapons

In the aftermath of North Korea’s third nuclear test since 2006, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast declared that Iran believes all nuclear weapons should be destroyed. Many Americans would say this makes Iran hypocritical. After all, they have nukes, don’t they? According to a CNN/Gallup poll last year, 71 percent  of Americans believe Iran has nuclear weapons. But here’s the thing: they don’t, and even our government admits it.

The poll was conducted last February, around the same time U.S. intelligence, Israeli intelligence and the International Atomic Energy Agency all reached the same conclusion on Iran — they do not have nuclear weapons and are not building nuclear weapons.

Why is there such a discrepancy between the public’s perception of Iran and the reality of the situation? It is because media members and politicians constantly exaggerate the possibility of Iran obtaining or even wanting to obtain nuclear weapons. Every quote from Tehran is analyzed for any indication of a change in their nuclear plans. Take this recent statement from Ayatollah Ali Khamenei: “We believe that nuclear weapons must be eliminated. We don’t want to build atomic weapons. But if we didn’t believe so and intended to possess nuclear weapons, no power could stop us.”

While Iran clearly states that they do not want nuclear weapons, the media strips the direct quote out of its context. Here is a headline taken from the website of Fox News, the highest rated cable news network: “Ayatollah Khamenei: If Iran Wanted Nukes, U.S. Can’t Stop Us.”  The misrepresentation is significant. The United States was not even mentioned in the Ayatollah’s statement, yet Fox frames it to seem as if we’re being taunted.


Why did the Ayatollah include the ending, though? Surely he knew it was antagonistic. A fair guess would be that Iran is sick of being told what they cannot have. It is like when parents tell young children they cannot have vegetables in order to get them to want vegetables. The more we tell Iran what they cannot have, the more urgently they will assert that they can have them. This is why Secretary of State John Kerry’s suggestion that we should mimic North Korea by sending a message to Iran is preposterous. In fact, it is the opposite of what we should do.

Iran does not want nuclear weapons. They want everyone else to give them up. They have gone above and beyond the requirements of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Iran has been victimized several times by violations of that treaty, particularly when the United Nations Security Council attempted to freeze all uranium enrichment in the country. Continued efforts by the American media-congressional complex to demonize Iran will only hurt Iranian-American relations going forward. After all, who helped start the Iranian nuclear program in the first place? America.

A version of this article was published in the Thursday, Feb. 21 print edition. Ian Mark is a contributing columnist. Email him at [email protected]



  1. The idea that the current government of Iran does not want nuclear weapons is naive and dangerous. This is a government that ruthlessly crushed peaceful revolution, and executes its citizens for crimes such as petty theft or embezzlement. It is a also a government who has threatened to wipe Israel of the face of the Earth, because it is a “cancer.” The only way Iran could possibly accomplish that would be with nuclear weapons. A government that espouses hate so openly cannot be trusted.

    • Agreed. Mr. Mark can proudly support the Islamic Republic all he wants to, but I’m afraid very few others will join him.

  2. “This is a government that ruthlessly crushed peaceful revolution, and executes its citizens for crimes such as petty theft or embezzlement. It is a also a government who has threatened to wipe Israel of the face of the Earth, because it is a “cancer.””

    1. The U.S. government crushed Occupy with FBI assistance. It also locks people up for “petty” crimes (see drug laws).
    2. The “wiped off the map” claim is a myth. Google it.
    3. The real regional threat is a hostile, nuclear-armed…

  3. “The real regional threat is a hostile, nuclear-armed…Israel.”

    Nope, I don’t think so. The Israelis should treat the Arabs better, but Iran is a rogue state, that much is undeniable, no matter how flawed Israel and the U.S. may be. If you’re really defending its leader or government, then you really are in the fringe minority of Americans. At least Israel is a democracy, Iran is some kind of twisted theocracy pretending to be one.

    This does not concern just the U.S., but the entire Israeli population as well. If Israel goes, so does Palestine. Iran is despised by nearly the entire Muslim world, only Assad and Russia really support Ahmadinejad’s regime. In fact, in case you didn’t know, most young Iranians despise both the regime and Islam itself.


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