Israel (and western ) media have a long history of predicting an impending Iranian nuke. That history goes back at least to 1984 if not before. Thanks to Israeli blogger and reporter for Calcalist, Omer Kabir, we have this history (Hebrew) in headlines and screenshots from Israel’s media. Scott Peterson performed the same research to prepare this timeline of world media predictions. Prof. Muhammad Sahimi published his own report on this subject here. Nima Shirazi also prepared his own here.
What’s most unfortunate about all this is that a blast from the past is not past, but present. The delusions which Israel’s media and leaders harbored in 1984 are the same they harbor today. No lessons learned.
It reminds me of Orwell’s Ministry Truth from 1984. Every time Big Brother made a prediction that turned out false, the ministry’s job was to go back and rewrite history, falsifying the original prediction to conform with reality. That’s why this blog exists–not to allow the Israeli equivalent.
To those who decry the Geneva nuclear agreement, claiming it at most delays Iran’s nuclear threshold by a month or two, remember this illustrious history of miserable failed predictions.
Kabir calls this Israeli illusion, Xeno’s Paradox, always drawing closer, never arriving. Khrushchev, according to Billmon, is also reputed to have similarly consoled the Politburo members when they asked how long it would take to bring ‘true Communism’ to the Soviet Union:
“We all know, comrades, that the horizon constantly recedes as we approach it.”
So here is the honor roll of Israeli media delusion concerning an Iranian bomb (featured in accompanying image):
Khomeini’s atomic bomb enters final stages of production with German assistance.
–Maariv, April 25 1984
It should be noted that the Jane’s Defense Weekly report on which this story is based actually said an Iranian bomb was “two years” away. It also quoted sources in the U.S. and elsewhere who denied the prediction. Here is Micha Zenko’s report on that interesting historical footnote in the annals of nuclear prediction. That didn’t stop Maariv from throwing the fear of Khomeini into Israelis.
Also note on Maariv’s front page, the historic oddity of then-Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Shamir, an Ashkenazi immigrant from Poland, dancing at the Moroccan Mizrahi festival, Maimouna.
To confirm that Israel has learned no lessons about Iran’s nuclear program in the past thirty years, today’s Maariv brings things full circle from 1984 to 2013. Its latest headline:
Projections: Iran Can Reach Nuclear Capacity Within 36 Days
This would appear to be a complete distortion of the actual Obama administration claim that the six month agreement will delay Iran crossing the nuclear threshold overall by a month or possibly more.
This archive of old headlines reads like a reign of error (all are from Yediot Achronot):
Iran will be capable of producing a nuclear weapon in another seven years.
–June 26 1984
Nuclear Expert: Iran will have a nuclear weapon by the end of the decade or in seven to eight years if China, Pakistan and Argentina continue aiding it.
–November 15 1991
Within 10 years Syria will have a nuclear weapon.
June 15 1992
Iran will have an operational nuclear weapon in the next five to eight years
September 20, 1992
Iran will have a nuclear weapon by 2000
December 1 1992
Rabin: Iran has the manpower and will to get a nuclear weapon within ten years.
January 21 1993
Iran has in its possession a nuclear weapon ready for immediate deployment
January 24, 1993
By year’s end Iran will be a nuclear threat against Israel
April 9 1993
Iran may achieve nuclear capability at any moment
January 9 1995
Iran wants a nuclear weapon by 2001.
December 27 1995
U.S.: Iran will have a nuclear weapon around 2000.
June 27 1997
Iran will threaten Israel with a nuclear weapon within four years.
July 10 2001
Nuclear weapon for Iran in 2005.
August 5 2003
IDF: Preparing for an Iranian atomic bomb in 2005
August 8 2003
Iran announces: we will achieve a nuclear weapon within four years
August 20 2004
Israeli intelligence sources: within two years they will have a bomb on the shelf
July 8 2005
Entire Middle East will arm itself with nukes.
Iranian atomic bomb in three years.
March 26 2006
Olmert: Within months Iran will be able to assemble a nuclear bomb
June 22 2006
U.S.: Iran will have a nuclear weapon in a year or two.
June 22 2011
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.