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Ron Richards - Los Angeles, California
How disappointing that a program such as Frontline would join in the politics of the Bush junta in spreading its war propaganda.
Your piece was biased and slanted, and even worse, you never once questioned the presuppositions upon which the Bush junta's arguments rest, nor the hypocrisy of the United States' position.
You know, there is another perspective that was missing from your coverage, and
that is from Westerners who are almost relieved that Iran
and other Third World countries will soon develop nukes and
delivery systems, since that is probably the only way of stopping
neo-fascists like Bush and Blair from waging war willy-nilly
all over the globe. It may not be your perspective and it
may not be the average perspective, but it is nonetheless
the perspective of many thinking people and as such, deserves
to have been addressed in your "coverage" of the nuclear situation
- First off, even under the existing treaty, Iran is
not prohibited from creating a nuclear energy program.
- Even if Iran wanted to withdraw from the treaty and
create nuclear weapons, so what? As a sovereign country
it has every right to do so. The United States under Bush
withdrew from nuclear treaties before, and Iran has that
right as well.
- What is really offensive is how Frontline adopted hook,
line and sinker the presupposition that the United States
has the right to dictate to Iran what Iran may or may
not have in terms of nuclear weaponry. Frontline has adopted
this quasi-panicked position that the United States under
Bush is trying to promote: "Oh my God, Oh my God, Iran
might soon have nuclear weapons! What ever are we to do?"
Why should the United States be allowed to have nuclear
weapons but not Iran? It is the United States that has
launched illegal preemptive wars, not Iran.
- Why single out Iran? Because it is a predominantly
Muslim country? What about America's racist, apartheid
client state in occupied Palestine? When will we see a
Frontline special titled, "Nuclear Weapons in Israel?"
Are we going to see Frontline reporters walking about
Tel Aviv or elsewhere asking probing questions about WMD
- Finally, and most inexcusably, Frontline never questions the real reason the U.S. is worried about nukes in Iran, and that is that this would compromise the United States' ability to go in and unilaterally dictate to the world what the rest of the world's policy should be. The U.S. is able to do so only because of its military might, and when potential adversaries have nuclear weaponry, this instantly and unquestionably neutralizes that military might. Not even a Christian fundamentalist madman like Bush dares to attack North Korea, and there is a reason for this.
You're correct about your first point: Iran has a right
to a nuclear energy program under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation
Treaty it signed. We make this point several times in our
story. Not only do we say it explicitly in the narration,
but also we have the Iranian negotiators make the point
themselves. We also try to do justice to several more arguments
that the Iranians make for their energy program when we
state that: (1) Iran claims it only turned to the nuclear
black market because a U.S.-led trade embargo made it impossible
to seek out a nuclear energy program above board; (2) though
Iran has great oil wealth, the country might need nuclear
power for domestic use because of its soaring population.
We also hear from Sirus Naseri, an Iranian negotiator, who
claims that Iran has a right not only to the use of nuclear
energy, but to produce nuclear fuel (enriched uranium) that
they could sell to other countries for energy uses.
You ask why we single out Iran on the nuclear issue.
The answer is that we are a news organization, and questions
about Iran's nuclear program are now news, just as questions
about the nuclear programs in North Korea, Israel, Pakistan
and elsewhere have been newsworthy at different times.
We have covered all of these stories in Frontline or FRONTLINE/World
As for criticism of Bush foreign
policy toward Iran, we left that to Naseri, who tells
our reporter: "Who are the Americans to say what we want
to have, what we have and what we should want. All they
have done is made every effort, in every manner that
could, to deny us [nuclear] technology...The Americans
do not have a game plan. I think the whole thing is becoming
extremely rhetorical within the U.S. administration.
They think they are in the driverís seat, but where do
they want to go?"
Aaron Deraps - San Francisco,
The story lists the Shahs as having ruled Iran from 1501
to 1979. The story overlooks the fact that a democratically
elected government and prime minister were elected in 1951.
In 1953, the United States overthrew the democratic government
of Iran (headed by Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh) and
installed a Shah friendly to the U.S. and Britain. This
event was called Operation Ajax.
My point is that Operation Ajax
is one of the biggest reasons the U.S. is hated by the
world, yet most Americans have never heard of it. The Arab
world doesn't "hate our freedom," they hate our imperialist
policies in their homelands. It wouldn't be a stretch
say that many countries are afraid of America doing the
same thing to them, and the only way to guard
against it is to develop nuclear weapons. North Korea
is a great
example of that.
Darin Enferadi - Benicia, California
Any country that currently supports international violence
should not be allowed to make nuclear weapons. Then again,
America has the most weapons stockpiled and we use violence
often, so we can hardly defend ourselves from this double
standard. We unjustly used nuclear weapons in World War
II, have invaded Iraq based on a lie, and have condoned
the outsourcing of detainees so they may be tortured. Having
said that, we should be careful not to allow the spread
of the most deadly weapons made by man. Iran's history is
filled with the interference of America and Russia and it
is no wonder that they want and demand the right of nuclear
power. Also, it should come as no surprise that they might
want nuclear weapons. Just look at the example the U.S.
has set recently -- if you have nuclear weapons, we will
not invade you. America's foreign policy is a pathetic joke
in general but especially when it comes to Iran.
I have zero support for the theocracy of Iran and the
corrupt nature of its government, but a number of our strongest
allies have working relationships with Iran and they seem
to be more optimistic toward peaceful dialog with a nuclear
Iran. I think that political change is going to come to
Iran soon; the demographics of Iran point to this. The clerics
cannot keep such a young growing populace under repressive
control for much longer. I think we should wait it out and
let the country got through an organic political evolution
into one that represents the interests of the people. I
also believe that we cannot take the knowledge already acquired
away from Iran, so we must come to the realization that
a nuclear-powered and possibly armed Iran is very much in
Anonymous - Chicago, Illinois
To be fair to mankind lets eliminate all nuclear weapons
and generators. That includes the U.S. -- no exceptions.
Anonymous - Chicago, Illinois
I found your program on Frontline May 24, 2005 concerning
Iran's nuclear facility rather biased. It seems to me that
it was a political statement made to further alienate public
opinion against Iran. Many countries have nuclear generators
and I don't see Bush jumping on them. Also Israel continually
thumbs its nose at the U.N. and I don't see any reaction
from your station. I might have missed a program on Israel's
nuclear facility in the past, and if you did air such a
program, I would probably buy it.
Jamshid Salehi - Tehran, Iran
Nobody should be prevented from having nuclear power plants
and everybody should be prevented from having an atomic
arsenal! This is much better for the whole world, including
the United States.
Mario Caires - Caracas, Venezuela
It is very hard to maintain a division between nuclear and
non-nuclear countries; I would say this is an unrealistic
way to look at the issue. On the other hand, I perfectly
understand the concern of people about a nuclear world where
a superpower or a less developed country could start a nuclear
attack. But, who in the world can say that Israel is allowed
to have nuclear weapons for security reasons and not Iran?
The Pandoraís box was opened in Hiroshima in August 1945
and nobody is able or wants to put the demon back in the
box. This is a threshold for humankind, because the proliferation
of nuclear weapons is a threat to the survival of this civilization.
George Daniel - London, Wisconsin
High-tone media outlets claim to excel at providing context.
But context is exactly what Frontline did not offer the
viewers of its report on Iran's nuclear development. Such
"silence about truth" is a prerequisite for the kind of
self-righteous hypocrisy that's likely to propel a military
assault on Iran. Why doesnít Frontline go do a documentary
on the illegal state of Israel and their nuclear arsenal?
Mo Adir - Iran
Why not Iran has nuclear weapons -- 500 of them. It is a
double-standard policy; it is unjust and unfair and what
makes countries go underground and build their arsenals.
Paul Hager - Bloomington, Indiana
Even before the U.S. went into Iraq, it has been my view
that Iran as it is presently constituted must be prevented
from developing nuclear weapons. I support regime change
in Iran by any means necessary in order to prevent the mullahs
from developing nukes.
Anonymous - Clinton, Louisiana
I was vastly disappointed in "Going Nuclear." I am a reader
of newspapers and current events and looked forward to learning
about the issue of Iran's nuclear program. I did not learn
much of anything from this shallow look at the issue. I,
in fact, know more about this issue than was presented in
your program just from reading newspapers. How about interviewing
more than one person from the U.S. government? Why not ask
harder questions of this one public official considering
the fact that we have been warned before about a Middle
Eastern country having nuclear weapons when they in fact
did not? How about mentioning the fact that our intelligence
on Iran is deplorable and was found to be so by a bipartisan
This episode built up to a foreboding "time for diplomacy
may be running out." How about interviewing someone from
Britain, Germany, or France since they are involved
in working diplomacy with the Iranians right now? This fact
was not explored. How about interviewing more people from
the IAEA? The head of the IAEA hardly spoke to the issue.
I have seen PBS programming that conducted private interviews
with Iranian citizens on the subject of government censorship
so why did this program only ask a group of probably threatened
citizens in a public market two token questions? I expect
deeper, more probing, and more intelligent programming from
anything using "Frontline" in its title.
Ben Sham - New York, New York
Which country dropped the nuclear bomb on Japan?
Parker - Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
I found the report appallingly gullible. In the post-Iraq
world, no claim of lack of cooperation or suspicious activities
by sovereign Third World countries is credible as "evidence"
of evil intent. Why didn't the producers grill the State
Department officials about being wrong about Iraq, which
also barred U.N. inspectors from certain facilities and
performed actions that seemed "suspicious"? Seeing this
report, I see journalists mistaking the relatively greater
access to "information" offered by the U.S. as "proof" that
the Americans are more honest, and, thus, worthy of more
credibility. Journalists and the public are being fooled
again. When will PBS start treating U.S. sources with the
same objective skepticism that they do with foreign sources?
Anonymous - Toronto, Ontario,
I fear the "gullibility" you sense is your own. This is
not about counterfeit CDs -- this is about nuclear weapons.
Surely a mushroom cloud is not the hard evidence you seek.
Besides, it is not in your interest to leave the benefit
of the doubt with a radical theocracy -- particularly
one espousing a religious philosophy, which at extremes
produces suicide bombers.
Scott - Waynesville, Ohio
Interesting story. However, is the picture of a man demonstrating
holding a sign that reads" Sources of Terrorism: Bush/Sharon"
necessary? Typical Anti-American, left wing bias promoted
by PBS. As stated, a very intriguing story that affects
us all, as Americans. Please leave out the political idealism.
Ron Richards - Los Angeles,
You know, these objections by the ultra-right that PBS
is "left wing" are beginning to grow tiresome. What's
wrong with placing a picture of a protestor's sign on
the Web site? Frankly, many people around the world believe
that both Bush and Sharon are the real sources of terror
in the world, including me. Sharon is the Butcher of Beirut
and Bush has slaughtered more than 100,000 Iraqis and
almost 2,000 of our military personal fighting this illegal
I am no pacifist and I support
just military actions, such as in Kosovo and Bosnia, but
this war is nothing more than a neo-con fantasy-cum-nightmare
designed to protect our illegal client state in occupied
Palestine and to ensure that the United States can continue
to impose its will on the Middle East's oil producing
As for PBS, if anything, it is
way too right wing. If PBS were truly left wing, it would
be exploring -- more importantly explaining -- the inadequacies
of the capitalist system. It would be doing stories on
the hypocrisy of those who voted to impeach Clinton for
lying about his tawdry little affair but who refuse to
impeach Bush for lying about WMDs in Iraq -- lies that
have cost the lives of tens of thousands of people.
News from PBS is, in fact, little
more than an intellectualized version of the same right-wing
news tripe that regularly comes through on the commercial
stations and on ultra-right cable stations like CNN and
FOX. PBS rarely questions the presuppositions that the
corporate media use to justify this and other imperialist
wars. To call PBS "liberal" is both laughable and tragic.
John Ortiz - Los Altos, California
Iran has the right to do what ever it wants with its nuclear
program even if it is used for WMD. Why should we care?
We have them in the U.S.; it deters our conventional enemies
from attacking us, so Iran has that same right. The U.S.
needs to get rid of its stockpile before policing other
nations. It's so hypocritical of our leaders. And as for
the U.N. inspector, they should just crawl in a hole and
disappear. Why? Because they have Iraq all wrong. For years
before the recent war, they were parading in the media that
Iraq had WMDs and tricked the U.S. into war. Where are these
inspectors now? Seriously, the U.S. should take a backseat
in this situation. I don't hear any European nation overly
concerned about Iran's nuclear program; I don't hear any
communist nation concerning itself with Iran. So why are
we? If they want to blow each other up, it's OK. If they
blow us up, we do the same. It's not like we haven't done
it before! I'm sure we can press that red button.
Actually, as we stated in the report, Europe is extremely
concerned about whether Iran is developing nuclear weapons,
which is why Germany, France and Britain are so actively
pursuing diplomatic measures to convince Iran to continue
suspension of their enrichment program until they agree
to safeguards and complete transparency, Also, Saddam Hussein,
of course, once had a formidable weapons of mass destruction
program, including chemical and biological weapons, and
prior to the first Gulf War he was pushing hard to develop
nuclear weapons. It was the U.N. weapons investigators who
successfully uncovered and destroyed Iraq's WMD program.
In the run-up to the current U.S. war in Iraq, it was the
CIA and British intelligence, not the U.N. inspectors, who
claimed -- incorrectly -- that Iraq still possessed WMD.
Tom Acker - Grand Junction, Colorado
The Bush administration has chosen to not honor nuclear
treaties the U.S. has signed in the past. We are the only
country to use nuclear weapons against another country --
two times! Now we have the audacity to ask if others should
use nuclear technology. We are in a morally untenable position.
Bill West - Youngstown, Ohio
Good story, but this also seems like another "gotcha" story
aimed at the United States. I wonder why there was not more
information about the ongoing negotiations with France,
Germany and Great Britain? This episode seems to point a
finger (again) that all the world's problems are due to
the action/inaction of the United States. I'm disappointed
in Frontline for this and hope you can be a bit more balanced
in the future.
You're right that France, Germany, and Great Britain,
known as the "EU3" -- have been central to the negotiations
with Iran over its nuclear program. Just a few days after
we aired, the EU3 successfully negotiated the continuation
of Iran's suspension of its uranium enrichment activities.
Reporter Paul Kenyon has followed and filmed the EU3 negotiations
extensively. They were a large part of the original one-hour
version of his story, which aired on the BBC in late April
2005. In our version, there was no intention to minimize
the role of the EU3 -- or to reframe the drama as solely
the U.S. vs. Iran -- just the limitations of a 25-minute
Michael P. - Portland, Oregon
I am impressed with FRONTLINE/World. However, I was disappointed
in Paul Kenyon. He had the opportunity to confront a world
issue -- "Iran, Going Nuclear." Instead, he made it U.S.A.
versus Iran. Having the forum to speak with high-ranking
Iranian officials, he chose to leave out the fact that E.U.
countries want the Iranian nuclear program stopped. In a
time of mostly sensationalistic journalism, I guess I should
not be surprised that coverage of the anti-American protests
made it into the show, while other footage was destroyed.