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August 15, 2017

Iran Increases Military Spending and the Media Fumbles

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IRGC members


Iranian lawmakers voted to increase military spending, while chanting “Death to America,” on Aug. 13, 2017. Many major U.S. news outlets ignored the event, while others offered incomplete reporting.

Iran’s parliament voted to increase funding for the country’s ballistic missile program and what The New York Times called “foreign operations by the Revolutionary Guards (“Iranian Parliament, Facing U.S. Sanctions, Votes to Raise Military Spending,” Aug. 13, 2017).”

Citing Iran’s state media, Times reporter Thomas Erdbrink said that Tehran would spend $260 million on its ballistic missile program and “around $300 million on activities by the Quds brigade, the international arm of the Revolutionary Guards Corps.” Additional funds, approximately more than $200 million, “will go to other defense and intelligence projects.”

Ali Larijiani, the speaker of the parliament, described the legislation as a “first step,” The Times reported. Out of 247 legislators present, all but seven voted for the bill.

As CAMERA has noted, the U.S. State Department has designated Tehran as the leading state sponsor of terrorism. The parliament, which has erroneously been described by some media outlets as containing “moderates,” is largely a rubber stamp for the theocratic dictatorship led by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ("The Media and the Myth of the Moderate Mullahs," March 2, 2016).

The Times’ report omitted key information about Iran. The dispatch failed to mention that the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps is actively involved in training U.S.-designated terrorist groups, including Hezbollah. As CAMERA has highlighted, the IRGC is supporting Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs) who are threatening U.S. troops and committing atrocities in Iraq and Syria ("Politico Whitewashes Iranian Militias," April 20, 2017). Instead, reporter Erdbrink simply stated that the IRGC is “advising Iraq and Syria.”

The paper also treated Iranian claims with an uncritical eye. For example, it quoted the regimes' assertions that “Iran says it does not want to make nuclear warheads, something the International Atomic Energy Agency verified during continuing inspections.” Yet, The Times failed to note that in every single instance in which an ICBM program was launched it was accompanied by an attempt to attach a nuclear payload to it. Similarly, the paper failed to note that the IAEA is only allowed access to sites that the Iranian government has “declared ("Iran deal limits inspectors' access to suspicious sites," Bipartisan Policy Center, July 17, 2015).”

Indeed, on the same day that Erdbrink filed his dispatch, the deputy chief of the IRGC, Hossein Salami, rejected U.S. demands to inspect Iranian military sites, stating “we’ll not let them even watch the doors of the sites.” In a November 2016 speech covered by the Iranian state media that Erdbrink cites, Salami proclaimed that Iran is able to target the U.S. "anywhere in the world."

The Times failed to cover Salami’s remarks. It also treated as credible Iranian claims that pressure from the Trump administration—specifically the passage of recent U.S. sanctions aimed at Tehran—was responsible for the military increase. However, as CAMERA highlighted in January 2017, Iran voted on Jan. 9, 2017 to “expand military spending”—eleven days before Donald Trump was sworn in as President. That is: Iran was increasing military spending before U.S. sanctions were increased—a key fact omitted by the paper.

Major U.S. news outlets largely ignored that earlier increase, including Politico, The Baltimore Sun and USA Today, among others. And yet again, all three outlets omitted Iran's recent defense appropriation.

Posted by SD at August 15, 2017 03:29 PM

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