The Atlantic Wire has confused Michele Bachmann about Iran's nuclear program and we feel terrible about it. Well, not terrible, but maybe a little uncomfortable. Actually, we're pretty flattered to learn that she reads The Atlantic Wire but that's another topic for another day. More to the point: Last night, the Minnesota congresswoman wrote a column in Investor's Business Daily about the need to "get tough" with Iran. To make her point, she cited an Atlantic Wire story from last week and described it as "fresh evidence that Iran may be further along the path toward nuclear weapons than we previously thought." Per Bachmann:
We learned last week in the Atlantic Wire that it is highly likely that the Iranians have been conducting high-explosive tests with materials necessary for a nuclear weapon at their Parchin military site, southwest of Tehran.
Unfortunately, that's not true. As much as we like the idea of our intrepid investigative unit catching a handful of goggle-wearing Iranians setting off bombs behind closed doors and publishing a world exclusive about it, we never did that and we never reported that in our story.
Don't get us wrong, the story did break new ground. But it had nothing to do with new evidence of high-explosive testing.
Last week's scooplet was news because it was the first satellite image of an old
Iranian site the U.N. suspects houses a containment chamber to conduct high-explosive tests. The existence of the chamber, which Bachmann referred to in yesterday's piece, was first reported back in November
in an International Atomic Energy Agency report. For her purposes, that would've been the time to jump on the news. That report claimed to have reviewed satellite images of the facility in question. But, as we explained last week, the IAEA never showed those images to the public. Being the voyeurs that we are, we wanted to see the photographs, so we asked our pals at the commercial satellite firm GeoEye for images of the Parchin military site and subsequently sent them to ace analyst Paul Brannan at the Institute for Science and International Security. Brannan's expert eye was able to pinpoint the facility because it had a security wall surrounding it and a large earth berm beside it. Voilà.
We hate to discourage anyone, especially a sitting member of Congress, from citing our stories in the public square. But given that knowledge of this chamber's existence is old news (not to mention the fact that the IAEA thinks it was built 12 years ago), we must implore Congresswoman Bachmann to read more carefully next time she swings by.
We've reached out to the congresswoman's office and will update when we hear back.