In 2009, the IAEA received a two-page document, purporting to come from Iran, describing this same alleged work. Mohamed ElBaradei, who was then the agency’s director general, rejected the information because there was no chain of custody for the paper, no clear source, document markings, date of issue or anything else that could establish its authenticity. What’s more, the document contained style errors, suggesting the author was not a native Farsi speaker. It appeared to have been typed using an Arabic, rather than a Farsi, word-processing program. When ElBaradei put the document in the trash heap, the U.K.’s Times newspaper published it.
I should be clear: Iran deserves tough scrutiny. It claims to have given up its nuclear-weapons ambitions, yet repeatedly acts as if it has something to hide. I am a skeptic; I suspect the Iranians may have an ongoing weaponization program. And the uncertainty must be resolved.
At the same time, we should not again be held hostage to forgeries and the spinning of data to make the worst case. If Iran is developing nuclear weapons, let it be proved through the analysis of current, solid information — not recycled, discredited data.