Back in August, the Associated Press published an article claiming that the IAEA would not oversee sampling at Iran’s Parchin site, where tests relating to nuclear weapons development are believed to have taken place. That claim, and the document said to support it, were not of the form that IAEA documents usually take, nor did it cover the material necessary for such a document. I said that here and described the kind of thing I would have expected to see, along with how IAEA might monitor sample-taking even if it were not on site.
The response was rapid and vehement on Twitter. AP reporters and editors, along with random others, attacked me and others who dared to question the story. They offered no further support for the story, nor did George Jahn, the author of the story, join in.
Well, now a couple of Reuters reporters have checked the story out. Those of us who found the AP document unconvincing seem to have been right.
“There was a compromise so the Iranians could save face and the IAEA could ensure it carried out its inspections according to their strict requirements,” said one of the diplomats. Inspections at the Parchin site, which is about 30 km (19 miles) southeast of Tehran, would by carried out by mixed IAEA and Iranian teams coupled with cameras overlooking and recording the process, the other diplomat said.
“The IAEA will be present when the Iranians take the samples (at Parchin). This approach to managed access is something that’s fairly standard in the IAEA toolbox. Nothing to worry about really,” the diplomat said.
“Unfortunately there have been distortions and inaccuracies in the media that made it look like Iran would simply inspect itself. That’s not how it works,” the diplomat added.
Part of the uproar about the AP story focused on its changing nature. Unfortunately, unlike the blogging community I’ve been a part of for a decade or more, the mainstream media see no need to note changes in their stories under a continuing URL. This is not confined to AP; the New York Times is particularly egregious in this respect. Although their public editor has noted the practice, she has been relatively uncritical of it.
Not only did the AP story change under the same URL, but the URLs continue to change. I can no longer find the original story at the AP site, although, as of this minute, AP’s copy of the document still resides here. I had to change URLS as I wrote the story. The Chicago Tribune still retains the story, but I don’t know for how long, so here’s a screen grab of the part where it says that the IAEA won’t be on site.
Should I take a screen grab of the Reuters article?