Gasligthting Iran and the JCPOA

The U.N. nuclear agency has no proof that Iran has or once had a covert atomic bomb program, it said on Thursday, dismissing a report that it had concluded Iran was on its way to producing nuclear weapons. 

IAEA denies report it is sure Iran seeking atom bomb | Reuters

“Gaslighting” is a colloquial term generally defined as “making someone question their own reality”, a tactic used by abusers to justify their actions. More rigorous application of the term in psychology is in the definition of DARVO:

DARVO stands for “Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender.” The perpetrator or offender may Deny the behavior, Attack the individual doing the confronting, and Reverse the roles of Victim and Offender such that the perpetrator assumes the victim role and turns the true victim

What is DARVO? (

The last part is particularly applicable, one of the characteristics of gaslighting is reversing the status of the abuser and victim.

When applied to the JCPOA and Iran, the amount of gaslighting going on is just amazing

Even though it was the US that “withdrew” (note how the US media frame the US has having “withdrawn” from the deal while Iran is said to have “violated” it) from the agreement and reimposed sanctions (and murdered Iranians) the media portray Iran as the problem rather than the US. The usual neocolonial terminology is back which portrays the US as the paternalistic figure whose “patience is thinning” with an “intransigent Iran“, a sneaky child throwing a fake tantrum.

The funny thing is when the media tries to blame the current situation on Iran’s election of “hardline” president Raisi. We’re told that Iran’s “intransigence” is due to him wanting to “renegotiate the deal” – nevermind that the entire reason why Raisi won the elections in the first place was because of the US withdrawal from the JCPOA which confirmed the worst suspicions of Iranians in general about the US (Iranians also massively support their nuclear program and resent US/EU pressure, as confirmed by multiple polls.) In fact not so long ago the Biden administration claimed that who won Iran’s elections wouldn’t make any difference anyway because it is Iran’s Supreme Leader who makes the decisions not the president — so get your story straight!

And today we have the Time magazine casually referring to a nuclear weapons program in Iran as if its existence is already established and unquestioned:

Iran is now further along in its nuclear weapons program than ever…

Iran Near Nuclear Weapon Capability, U.S. General Says | Time

The irony here is palpable: Iran has agreed to restrictions and limitations on its nuclear program well-beyond any legal obligation, what the NPT requires or what any other country has agreed to, , verifiably abided by it even when the US violated the deal (& repeatedly suspended enrichment of uranium for years at a time as good faith gestures during the course of negotiations several times in the past too) and is now simply expecting that the US live up to its obligations under the deal. If that’s not good enough, then obviously the US either does not want to make a deal or more likely the Biden administration simply cannot abide by the deal because they’ve overpromised and have been blocked internally by lobbyists and pressure groups from abiding by their end of the bargain (and so are looking for a way out that shifts blame onto Iran.)

Of course, the IAEA – as compromised and discredited as it has become since El Baradei left as DG under US pressure – has never said anything about making nuclear weapons, as Time inaccurately asserts. But aside from that, this tendency to casually refer to a nuclear weapons program as an established fact goes back a while & was a characteristic of the Bush/NeoCon years. I’ve written about this before

the Bush administration simply treats the existence of an Iranian nuclear weapons programme as an established and unquestionable fact. Thus, addressing a conference in December 2003, John Bolton, at the time US Under-Secretary for Arms Control and International Security, declared: “Although Iran has biological, chemical and missile programmes, I will focus today on their nuclear weapons programme, which Iran itself has acknowledged has been under way for at least eighteen years.”(5) This despite the fact that there is no evidence of a nuclear-weapons programme in Iran, and that Iran has certainly never acknowledged the existence of any such programme…

[J]ust as in the case of Iraq, the media and the pundits are happy to go along with the official spin by casually tossing out pro forma references to “Iran’s nuclear weapons programme”, as if the existence of such a programme is now beyond dispute. For example, on 23 May 2005, PBS TV’s News-Hour with Jim Lehrer dedicated a segment to “a report on the Iranian nuclear weapons program”. On 4 April 2006, William Arkin opened his online Washington Post blog: “In the tricky world of deterrence, where the United States is pressuring Iran to give up its nuclear weapons program …”

Rhetoric of War: First Iraq, then Iran (

Other better qualified experts have previously criticized the claims against Iran’s nuclear program- including the allegations promoted by Amano after he replaced Elbaradei – and how the claims don’t add up:

Many of these accusations I find to be quite incredible. One example: There is a specific type of electrical detonator to set off explosives. It is called an “exploding-bridgewire detonator”. And the IAEA says, they have information that Iran has been researching these detonators. IAEA also says in the 2011 report, “these detonators have very few other uses besides nuclear weapons and so we think it is an indicator they research nuclear weapons”. But if you go and look up these “exploding-bridgewire detonators” you find out millions of them are manufactured every year. And it is not for nuclear weapons. The IAEA got it exactly wrong.

Iran nuclear deal: ′Accusations with very little proof′ | World | Breaking news and perspectives from around the globe | DW | 16.04.2015

Analysts of the media’s coverage of Iran have also long pointed out:

Newspaper coverage generally adopted the tendency of U.S., European, and Israeli officials to place on Iran the burden to resolve the dispute over its nuclear program, failing to acknowledge the roles of these other countries in the dispute…

Coverage of Iran’s nuclear program reflected and reinforced the negative sentiments about Iran that are broadly shared by U.S., European, and Israeli publics. This contributed to misunderstandings about the interests involved and narrowed the range of acceptable outcomes.

Microsoft Word – Media Coverage of Iran’s Nuclear Program – FINAL – 042713 (

In fact the media takes it upon themselves to “correct” people into believing falsehoods:

In its fact-check, ABC News deserves a special shout-out for conflating Iran’s nuclear program and Iran’s erstwhile nuclear weapons program. This exact conflation has been a mainstay talking point for the hawkiest of Iran hawks

What Tim Kaine Actually Got Wrong About the Iran Nuclear Deal During the Veep Debate – LobeLog

And so that’s why we’re back to the old false choice promoted by the NeoCons, according to which we either bomb Iran or Iran gets the bomb.