Book review: A Dangerous Delusion. Why The West Is Wrong About Nuclear Iran by Peter Oborne and David Morrison

In 2007 the annual US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), the consensus position of the US's twelve intelligence agencies, concluded "We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program… We assess with moderate confidence Tehran had not restarted its nuclear weapons program as of mid-2007”. US journalist Seymour Hersh has since reported the 2011 classified NIE doesn't dissent from the 2007 report's conclusions.

In contrast, a 2010 poll conducted by The Israel Project found 80 per cent of Americans think Iran has a nuclear weapons programme.

So, what gives? One reason for the mass ignorance of the general public may be the reporting of the mainstream media, which regularly refers to Iran’s nuclear weapons or, as John Humphrys mentioned in passing recently on the BBC’s Today Programme, “Iran’s nuclear weapons programme”.

All of which makes this brilliant primer on the subject from Peter Oborne, the Daily Telegraph’s Chief Political commentator, and David Morrison very welcome.

What is particularly impressive is how many popular myths the authors slay within the book’s 107 pages. A central part of their argument is that the US and its allies in Europe have “stood in the way of a settlement by refusing to accept Iran’s right to uranium enrichment under the NPT [Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons].” Elsewhere they highlight the long history of Western interference in Iranian domestic politics, US support for Iran’s nuclear programme under the Shah and how one leaked US state department cable described the current Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency as “solidly in the US court” on Iran. Completely omitted from the media’s narrative is the fact signatories to the NPT promise to share nuclear technology for peaceful purposes – something the West has clearly contravened with Iran since 1979.

For Oborne and Morrison, the West’s aggressive posturing has little to do with stopping nuclear proliferation, and everything to do with preventing “Iran becoming a major power in the Middle East in opposition to the US.” Echoing the Carter Doctrine, President Obama recently explained at the United Nations “The United States of America is prepared to use all elements of our power, including military force, to secure our core interests in the region.”

This may well be the first time a book co-written by a Chief Political commentator of the Daily Telegraph has received a positive review in the Morning Star. But this really is an outstanding piece of work – a devastating indictment of the dangerous hypocrisy of Western governments and their lapdogs in the media. Essential reading.

A Dangerous Delusion. Why The West Is Wrong About Nuclear Iran by Peter Oborne and David Morrison is published by Elliott & Thompson Ltd, priced £8.99.

Ian Sinclair is a freelance writer based in London and the author of The March That Shook Blair: An Oral History of 15 February 2003, published by Peace News Press. He can be contacted at and


Leave a comment