I was struck by two things in this newly breathless and alarmist front-page NYT report.
First, it says its information is based on the word of officials who “insisted on anonymity because the search involves not only satellite surveillance, but also intelligence gleaned from highly classified operations.” Yet the only hard, new information is based on the public statement of the head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization [Ali Akhbar Salehi] — all that ultra-classified stuff is by their own admission nothing more than pure speculation.
Second, the other revelation is that no new centrifuges have been added to the Natanz site, which may mean that these are destined for the two new “secret” (but publicly announced) sites. Let’s see, Iran has publicly declared its Qom facility, which is under inspection, and they say that they are going to install 3000 centrifuges there. But the site is not ready, so a less sensational interpretation would be that they are holding their new centrifuges to go there when the site is ready. It’s also not surprising that they are not adding new centrifuges to the Natanz site since more than 50% of the 9000 centrifuges installed at Natanz are not actually producing enriched uranium. Why add to the non-working total?
Why do Sanger and Broad insist on spinning a conspiratorial scenario when there are perfectly rational alternatives? I guess that doesn’t qualify as a scoop, so it doesn’t deserve front-page treatment, and it makes the word of unnamed officials with access to unmentionable intelligence look pretty foolish.
Given the NYT experience with faithfully reproducing sensational and highly selective leaks prior to the Iraq war, which proved to be false and which helped get the US into a war that was initiated on false premises, it is truly difficult for me to believe that the NYT editors still continue to put out this kind of unsourced, circular, prejudicial, and logically challenged reporting — and always on the front page!