John Gibson falsely claimed that a “Russian general said that North Korea does have the [nuclear] bomb, and Iran's going to have the [nuclear] bomb literally any minute.” In fact, according to the BBC, the general whom Gibson was apparently citing, Col. Gen. Viktor Yesin, said that “Iran will be able to produce a nuclear weapon within the next few years.”
On the April 5 edition of Fox News' The Big Story, host John Gibson falsely claimed that a “Russian general [had] said [that day] that North Korea does have the [nuclear] bomb, and Iran's going to have the [nuclear] bomb literally any minute.” In fact, according to BBC Monitoring, a service of the BBC that monitors international press reports, and MosNews.com, the Russian general whom Gibson was apparently citing, Col. Gen. Victor Yesin, the former chief of staff of the Russian Strategic Missile Troops, said that “Iran will be able to produce a nuclear weapon within the next few years.” He also said (subscription required) that “the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) has developed the necessary infrastructure for the creation of nuclear weapons,” but that because North Korea has not carried out a nuclear test, “I would refrain from saying unequivocally that the DPRK has a nuclear weapon.”
Despite misstating what Yesin said, Gibson suggested that Yesin's opinion regarding Iran's and North Korea's nuclear capabilities was definitive, asking of Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee: “What else do you want to know?” Harman responded: “I think we've seen this movie before. We shouldn't do saber-rattling back. What we should do is the hard work of getting the good sources, doing the right analysis, and then speaking truth to power, so that our policymakers have the best possible intelligence.”
While claiming that Iran will have a nuclear bomb “literally any minute,” Gibson not only misrepresented Yesin's statements, but also fabricated the speculated timeline as to when experts believe Iran will be able to produce a nuclear weapon. Media Matters for America recently documented that on March 5, The New York Times reported that “American intelligence agencies say it will take 5 to 10 years for Iran to manufacture the fuel for its first atomic bomb.” A March 31 Los Angeles Times article reported that some "[Bush] administration and European officials have suggested that Iran could make enough enriched uranium for a bomb in three years," but added that "[m]any other experts say the technical difficulties would make such a short time frame almost impossible."
Media Matters also documented a recent disagreement between International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) officials and U.S. officials over Iran's road to nuclear weapons capabilities. On March 23, Knight Ridder reported that, based on a recent IAEA briefing on Iran's nuclear progress, “U.S. officials and a foreign diplomat” expressed concern that Iran's progress on a network of 164 centrifuges indicated that Iran would be “two to three years away” from a nuclear weapon if Iran overcame numerous “technical hurdles.” On March 25, the Associated Press reported that a senior IAEA official called the U.S. claims about the briefing “pure speculation and misinformation,” and that a “diplomat in Vienna” -- where the IAEA is headquartered -- “said some U.S. administration officials were misrepresenting” the briefing. The official claimed that "[i]t comes from people who are seeking a crisis, not a solution" to the confrontation over Iran.
In January 2003, North Korea withdrew from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). The country claimed to possess nuclear weapons in April 2003 and February 2005. But in September 2005, in what was called the “six-party talks,” the United States, China, Japan, Russia, and North and South Korea signed a "Statement of Principles," in which North Korea agreed to abandon its nuclear weapons program, return to the NPT, and re-institute IAEA safeguards at “an early date.” According to the Nuclear Threat Initiative, "[t]he Central Intelligence Agency estimates that North Korea has one or two nuclear bombs that were assembled with plutonium reprocessed between 1989 and 1991," but it is “unclear if these devices have been 'weaponized' or are small enough to be mated with delivery systems.”
From the April 5 edition of Fox News' The Big Story with John Gibson:
GIBSON: Iran is testing anti-aircraft land-to-sea missiles, which are said to be capable of evading radar. The state-run TV there reports Iran also successfully fired a top-secret missile. This is the third -- the -- this week. They've also unveiled high-speed torpedoes and a super-modern flying boat. So, while Iran keeps playing war games, should we be working on our next move? Joining us now, Democratic Congresswoman from California Jane Harman.
HARMAN: Hi, John.
GIBSON: So Congresswoman, it appears Iran is just rolling out weapon after weapon this week. I guess they're talking to you and everybody else under that Capitol dome, aren't they?
HARMAN: Well, they're making a lot of noise. Saddam Hussein is making a lot of noise in a courtroom. But what is critical, John, is that we know, truly, as accurately as we can, how capable they are and what their intentions are, and that requires the best intelligence we can field. And I'm not sure that our intelligence case on Iran is as good as it needs to be.
GIBSON: Well, I mean, they're giving us plenty of pictures of their new weapons.
GIBSON: What else do you want to know?
HARMAN: Well, the big issue is how nuclear capable is Iran? We've known for years that they have a lot of missiles and those missiles go fast. We also know they are an existential threat to the region, especially to Israel. They've armed a lot of terror groups, and they've done a lot of bad things. But the issue, at least that I want to know more about, is how nuclear capable are they? When will they have nuclear weapons? And what are the intentions of the leader? Not what's the leader's -- what's the -- not what's the decibel level is, but what are they really going to do?
GIBSON: Well, today, I believe a Russian general said that North Korea does have the bomb, and Iran's going to have the bomb literally any minute. So, what else do you need to know?
HARMAN: Well, I don't know who the North -- the Russian general is. We know that Russia's been transferring technology to Iran for decades. Congress tried to stop it some time ago, and it obviously didn't stop. But that doesn't cause me to believe it. Let's remember the history on Iraq. We learn now that one of the biggest sources was called Curveball, and Curveball was totally unreliable. And we based a lot of intelligence products on this guy. I think we've seen this movie before. We shouldn't do saber-rattling back. What we should do is the hard work of getting the good sources, doing the right analysis, and then speaking truth to power, so that our policymakers have the best possible intelligence.