Israeli Media 30-Year ‘Reign of Error’ Predicting Iranian Nuke

By Richard Silverstein

Maariv March 1984 headline predicts “Khomeini’s atomic bomb in final stage of production”
Maariv March 1984 headline predicts “Khomeini’s atomic bomb in final stage of production”

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.

“Projections: Iran can achieve nuclear capability within 36 days.” Maariv–November 27 2013

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.
December 2005

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

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.