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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Iranian nuclear bomb letter reported as a hoax (updated x2)

I had quoted MEMRI last week about an article at an Iranian Revolutionary Guards website that seemed to say that Iran was actively working on nuclear weapons.

Now there are reports that it was a hoax.

From YNet:
An Iranian blogger revealed on Tuesday that the controversial article published on a Revolutionary Guard website in April, describing a hypothetical nuclear experiment by the Islamic Republic, was nothing but a figment of his imagination.

The essay caused an international stir as it was not inline with the official Iranian claim that its nuclear program is being developed for civilian purposes only.

Seyed Ali Pourtabatbaiee, a 30-year-old journalist from the central Iranian city of Qom, first published his essay on his blog, Kheyzaranonline, which is dedicated to Shiite messianism.

"I wrote that blog out of anger that Iran does not have a nuclear weapon," Pourtabatbaiee said in an interview with British newspaper The Guardian. "I think sanctions will just continue until the end of days, and they make us so angry.

"We don't need nuclear weapons otherwise, but if we are going to have these sanctions, we should do a nuclear test to bring them to an end," he added.

Pourtabatbaiee said that his article was arbitrarily linked to Gerdab, a site run by the Revolutionary Guard's cyber security wing and often features links "to what it thinks is good content."

"There was a university student I know working for Gerdab and he read my blog and liked it and put in a link to it," he explained. "He has to put up five links a day to get paid in his job. I don't think Gerdab management knew anything about it."
I remember that I could not find the original article in Gerdab, but I got my information from MEMRI.

So was the article on the Gerdab site, or just a link to it?

I emailed MEMRI, hopefully will get a clarification soon. It would be most disappointing if MEMRI did not translate the article directly from the website.

Incidentally, this brings up my only complaint about MEMRI, which is a fantastic organization and provides invaluable services. Why don't they publish the actual links to the original web articles they translate?

UPDATE: Challah Hu Akbar did have a link to the original on Gerdab. I cannot find any indication that the article is linked to from somewhere else. But if I am reading the Persian date correctly, it does appear that the blog post was a day earlier than the Gerdab post.

Here's the blogger's explanation of what happened in English.

UPDATE 2: MEMRI stands by the story (via email.)
MEMRI's piece was a translation from Gerdab , which is an official IRGC site. Ynet does not (and can not) negate any of the facts. they just buy into a possible Iranian attempt to clean themselves off the problems this article may have created for them once it got translated and distributed in the west. No fact was challenged. It was an article on Gerdab. calling it a hoax does not make it one.