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ATOMIC IRAN: Simply Crazy, or Crazy Like a Fox?


By Kam Zarrabi, Intellectual Discourse


Iran-bashing; the most popular beer-parlor game these days. 


Mere words cannot fully describe the character of Jerome R. Corsi, the author of the new book, ATOMIC IRAN, published by Cumberland House Publishing, Nashville Tennessee. The reader might plug Mr. Corsi’s name in any internet search engine and watch what surfaces.

He supposedly has a PhD from Harvard in political science, which gives this light-trigger cannon even a greater potency.



Mr. Corsi gained national notoriety after the publication of his last book, Unfit for Command, a long-discredited series of false allegations against the Democratic Party presidential candidate, John Kerry. While his attacks on the Democratic Party can be rationalized - after all, Mr. Corsi is a diehard ultraconservative Republican - his motives behind his inveterate hatred of the Islamic Republic of Iran deserves a more careful analysis.


In the Foreword by Craig. R. Smith, CEO, Swiss America, Corsi is credited with “..impeccable research, similar to that which undergirded the runaway New York Times best seller, Unfit for Command..” The book is further touted as a “journalistic expose”. The validity of this endorsement falls apart rather quickly as we read on.


In the Preface, Corsi refers to the revolution of 1978-79 as “..the 1979 student revolution that brought Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to power.” It is obvious that Jerome Corsi has not devoted enough of time to look into the historical facts about the Iranian revolution before taking on the subject. A massive national uprising of historical proportions is not the same as student riots at a university campus. 


The Introduction section is highlighted by a quote from another well-known Iranophobe, Michael Ledeen, Resident Scholar in the Freedom Chair at the American Enterprise Institute. Other endorsements for the book are by fellow anti-Iran conspirators, like Frank J. Gaffney of Center for Security Policy, or the authors of the Iran Democracy Act and Coalition for Democracy in Iran, neoconservative organizations supported by the Israeli lobby for the sole purpose of destabilizing Iran in the guise of promoting democratic reforms.


In Section 1, Iran’s Quest for Nuclear Weapons, Dr. Corsi begins to lay down the premise for what is to follow. His “impeccable research” and “journalistic expose” is best presented on page 42, where our formidable scholar uses the entire page quoting the Iranian President, Khatami: “Iran’s President Muhammad Khatami speaks in radical terms.” Here, Corsi is quoting Mr. Khatami as having made some extremely arrogant, inflammatory and, indeed, highly aggressive statements. Corsi sites reference #45 as the source of the above statements.

Corsi refers to a web address that has served as the source for his assertions. Below is an exact copy of the referenced quotation:



Iran's Revolutionary Guards Official Threatens Suicide Operations: 'Our Missiles Are Ready to Strike at Anglo-Saxon Culture… There Are 29 Sensitive Sites in the U.S. and the West…'

The London Arabic-language daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat reported that "an Iranian intelligence unit has established a center called The Brigades of the Shahids of the Global Islamic Awakening to replace the Iranian Revolutionary Guards' Department of Liberation and Revolutionary Movements, which had been in charge of helping and training revolutionary forces across the world." The article went on to report a speech given by an official of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, threatening the U.S. with suicide and missile attacks at already-selected sensitive targets, and threatening to "take over" Britain. The following is the report:

Iran Stands Ready to Attack the West

"A source close to [Revolutionary Guards] intelligence confirmed that P.R. has been appointed secretary-general of a new office that has begun registering the names of suicide volunteers to be sent to Iraq, Palestine, and Lebanon.

"[The newspaper reported that it had obtained] a tape with a speech by H.A., a [Revolutionary] Guards intelligence theoretician, who teaches at the Revolutionary Guards' Al-Hussein University. [In the tape, H.A.] spoke of Tehran's secret strategy aimed at taking over the Arab and Muslim countries by means of helping revolutionary forces and organizations. H.A. is regarded as one of the advisors of a branch in the organization, and has published a number of works on exporting the [Islamic] revolution and the method of the struggle against the world arrogance [i.e., the U.S.].

"In his speech at a secret conference attended by students who are members of the Ansar Hizbullah movement at Al-Hussein University, [H.A. said]: 'Iraqi oil constitutes 11% of the world oil reserves, and it has fallen into the hands of the U.S. and Britain. The value of the intelligence documents that the U.S. obtained because of its takeover of Iraqi intelligence is greater than $1000 billion. Whereas our [Iran's] Foreign Ministry was expressing willingness to reconstruct the statue of the Buddha [destroyed by the Taliban in 2001] in Afghanistan – that is, to build an idol, which is an act that is against the principles of Islam – the U.S. managed to force its rule on Afghanistan.

"'(President Muhammad) Khatami speaks of the dialogue between civilizations, and I have grave doubts about this. It is a dubious idea. We do not want to take over the British Embassy, since they (the British) have already cleared the embassy of documents; we must take over Britain [itself].'

"After [H.A.] harshly attacked Khatami and the reformists, he said in his speech: 'The West sees us as terrorists, and depicts our strategy as terrorism and repression. Had our youth agreed to Khatami's teachings and interpretations, it would never have fought the arrogance, and would never have defended the holy places – because Khatami speaks always of being conciliatory, of patience, and of rejecting terrorism, while we defend [the line of] toughness and war against the enemies of revolutionary Islam. I take pride in my actions that cause anxiety and fear to the Americans.

"'Haven't the Jews and the Christians achieved their progress by means of toughness and repression? We have a strategy drawn up for the destruction of Anglo-Saxon civilizationand for the uprooting of the Americans and the English.

"'Our missiles are now ready to strike at their civilization, and as soon as the instructions arrive from Leader ['Ali Khamenei], we will launch our missiles at their cities and installations. Our motto during the war (in Iraq) was: Karbala, we are coming, Jerusalem, we are coming. And because of Khatami's policies and dialogue between the civilizations, we have been compelled to freeze our plan to liberate the Islamic cities. And now we are [again] about to carry out the program.'

"In his speech, he added: 'The global infidel front is a front against Allah and the Muslims, and we must make use of everything we have at hand to strike at this front, by means of our suicide operations or by means of our missiles. There are 29 sensitive sites in the U.S. and in the West. We have already spied on these sites and we know how we are going to attack them.'

"In another part of his speech, he emphasized, 'If Israel dares attack the [nuclear] installations at Bushehr, our losses will be very low, because [only] one structure will be destroyed – while we [i.e., Iran] have means of attacking Israel's nuclear facilities and arsenals such that no trace of Israel will remain.'"


As can be readily seen, the above material has absolutely nothing to do with President Khatami. Mr. Corsi has erroneously or deliberately and maliciously, quoted from an unknown (H.A.), who is apparently a hothead revolutionary guard, who has, in turn, been quoted by another unknown character (P.R.), in an unknown publication somewhere rather nondescript! Talk about impeccable research and journalistic integrity!


Interestingly, the only reference to Mr. Khatami in the above material is where this same (H.A.) is denouncing the Iranian President for being too conciliatory, and regards Khatami’s ideas of a dialogue between civilizations as dubious.


It should be an embarrassment for a publisher to have overlooked such gross misrepresentations or, to put it mercifully, mistakes, in the manuscript offered by a writer whose notoriety and opportunism are so well documented.


As far as the rest of the book’s contents, better than two-thirds is devoted to Democratic Party-bashing as a continuation of Corsi’s cause celebre or claim to fame, Unfit for Command.  The remaining sections contain a series of totally unsubstantiated sensationalized statements that sound more like beer-parlor talk than scholarly research.


The reader should take some time to review Jerome Corsi’s background and his track record in order to gain some idea of what might have motivated him to write this book.


Information is also available on the web regarding the Iran Democracy Act and the Coalition on Democracy for Iran. Below is material regarding the Coalition for Democracy in Iran extracted from the web site:


Web location:

The Coalition for Democracy in Iran (CDI) is one of numerous pressure groups created by neoconservatives that focus on changing U.S. foreign policy. These include the U.S. NATO Committee, Committee for Liberation of Iraq, and U.S. Committee for a Free Lebanon. In late 2002 Michael Leeden and Morris Amitay spearheaded the creation of the Coalition for Democracy in Iran. Other members include Frank Gaffney, Jack Kemp, Bruce McColm, Joshua Muravhik, Danielle Pletka, Rob Sobhani, Raymond Tanter, and James Woolsey. (1)

CDI represents just one thrust in a phalanx of neoconservative initiatives and organizations that aim to set the U.S. foreign policy agenda for Iran. Other groups include the Middle East Forum, Project for the New American Century, Hudson Institute, Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, Committee on the Present Danger, Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, and especially the American Enterprise Institute, which serves as the flagship neocon think tank.

CDI states it was “formed to mobilize the efforts of groups and individuals across the United States, including Iranian-Americans, who support the aspirations of the Iranian people for democracy and respect for human rights in Iran. In the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks, there is an even greater urgency to focus the attention of the U.S. public opinion and the policy makers on the real agenda of the Iranian regime. If judged by actions rather than by words, the battle between the reformers and the hardliners appears only to be a myth, albeit one that has resulted in conflicting signals from Washington. On the vital issues of support for terrorism and for develo

pment of weapons of mass destruction, the Islamic Republic tolerates no dissention. Nor has the theocracy been able to deliver economic and political reforms for the people of Iran. Promoting democracy in Iran will build a more peaceful and prosperous Iran, advancing the common interests of both Americans and Iranians.”

Among CDI’s goals are: 1) highlight human rights abuses, which have continued or in some cases increased under the current ‘reformist’ president; 2) highlight the continued pre-eminent role of the Iranian government in global terrorism, the accumulation of weapons of mass destruction and the development of far-reaching and accurate delivery systems; 3) expose the efforts of the Iranian regime to undermine progress toward Middle East peace; and 4) draw attention to the flagrantly discriminative treatment of women in Iran.

According to CDI, “Engaging reformists tied only to the regime is counterproductive since it stifles the growth of more democratic forces inside Iran. Perpetuating the behavior of the current regime fundamentally undermines U.S. moral values and national security interests. Any positive U.S. gestures toward Iran should be directed towards the people of Iran and not its current oppressive regime.” (2)

Origins and Impact

Several of the CDI principals were among the main presenters at an AEI forum titled “The Future of Iran.” Setting the tone of the forum, convener Meyrav Wurmser of Hudson Institute said: “Our fight against Iraq was only a battle in a long war. It would be ill-conceived to think we can deal with Iraq alone…We must move on, and faster.”

Morris Amitay, listed on the program as the vice-chair of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, made mention of his association with CDI. Also presenting were Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kansas), whose sponsorship of congressional resolutions against Iran have been closely coordinated with CDI, American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), and Middle East experts at AEI and other neocon policy centers; Michael Ledeen, who Amitay called the “godfather of JINSA, and who has served as the necon’s point-man on Iran; and S. Rob Sobhani, an Iranian-American who is president of Caspian Energy Consulting and like others associated with CDI is a close acquaintance of Reza Pahlavi, the son of the ousted Shah of Iran (installed by a U.S.-engineered coup in 1953).

Although CDI calls for greater democracy in Iran, the close association of neocons such as Ledeen and Sobhani with the shah’s son raise concern that this may form part of another U.S. plan to restore the monarchy in Iran. Writing in the International Herald Tribune, Cameron Kamran, an Iranian-American commentator, said: “The Coalition for Democracy in Iran has strong ties to the exiled Reza Pahlavi, the deceased shah’s son, and the Iran Democracy Act would largely fund dissident groups that advocate a restoration of the monarchy.” (3) (4) As it turned out, the initial request for $50 million to fund exile groups was removed from the 2003 congressional resolution, although its cosponsor Christopher Cox noted that funding for dissident groups could be included in future spending bills.

Michael Ledeen, who was one of the leading actors in the Iran-Contra affair during the second Reagan administration, is once again involved in backchannel operations involving U.S. government officials (Larry Franklin and Harold Rhode who work in the DOD’s Office of Policy under Douglas Feith), Iranian dissidents and arms merchants (notably Manhucher Ghoranifar, who helped arrange the U.S. arms transfers to Iran with Ledeen in 1986-87), and Italian and likely Israeli officials. These meetings have come under congressional scrutiny by the Select Senate Intelligence Committee, which has postponed further inquiry until after the November 2 elections.

To build support for their Middle East restructuring agenda, CDI and other neocon groups repeatedly highlight the repressed role of women in Islamic societies. An extreme interpretation by Rob Sobhani of this argument has drawn angry criticism from students at Georgetown University, where Sobhani is an adjunct professor. They charge that Sobhani has on at least two occasions (one being at the AEI forum in 2003) made the following statement: “There's a young lady here in the United States who is in her mid thirties. She’s a Deputy Secretary of Education in the United States, an American Iranian. That same 30-something in Iran has to prostitute herself to make ends meet.” In a complaint to the university administration, the critics charge: “Mr. Sobhani’s irresponsible and inappropriate statement implies that Iranian women are prostitutes, however competent they might be. His allegation is both false and malicious… His manner of argument uses the degradation of the image of Iranians to that of a helpless, backward people as a tactic to gain support for his political agenda.” (5)

The Coalition for Democracy in Iran also includes members of other key neoconservative policy institutes and think tanks, including Raymond Tanter of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (an off-shoot of AIPAC); and Frank Gaffney, president of the Center for Security Policy. In the 1990s Feith served as the board chairman of the Center for Security Policy, and James Woolsey is currently co-chairman of the advisory committee of this militarist institute whose slogan is “peace through strength.” Other neocon institutes represented in the coalition by more than one member include the American Enterprise Institute (Muravchick, Ledeen, Pletka), Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (Woolsey, Kemp, Gaffney), and Freedom House (Woolsey, McColm).

CDI and the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee were among the main policy groups that worked with House and Senate members to pass resolutions in 2003 and 2004 that express support for regime change in Iran, call for more restrictive international sanctions, and condemn Iran for its support of terrorism and human rights abuses. The congressional members taking the lead in both the House and the Senate were right-wing Republicans such as Christopher Cox, Jon Kyl, Rick Santorum, and Sam Brownback. But the Iran congressional initiatives also drew in Democrats as sponsors including Charles Schumer (NY) and Daniel Inouye (Hawaii), and Patrick Leahy (D-VT).

Just as the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 established the foundation for bipartisan congressional support for the 2002 invasion, the congressional initiatives regarding Iran have drawn in broad congressional support for resolutions that prepare the ground for a more aggressive U.S. posture, including possible support for expatriate groups and military strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities and missile sites. Lauding the Brownback Senate amendment of July 2003 supporting democracy in Iran, AEI scholar Joshua Muravchik, speaking for CDI, said: “This amendment is an important milestone in the relationship between the U.S. Congress and the people of Iran. It sends a message to the Iranian people that the American people are aware of their struggle to free themselves, and that we want to do what we can to help. The days of waiting for the Iranian regime to reform itself are over.”

After the Iraq invasion, CDI principals and CDI itself increasingly began blaming Iran for the anti-U.S. insurgency in Iraq. CDI stated “It is clear that Iran’s mullahs will not tolerate an emerging democracy on their border. They have reportedly sent millions of dollars and numerous intelligence operatives into Iraq to create chaos and attack Coalition forces. Iran's biggest export continues to be terrorism. If we are to succeed in Iraq, Iran must be reined in. We call upon the administration to react to this clear and present danger to U.S. interests by using all the means at its disposal to deter Iran’s activities in Iraq and its development of nuclear weapons.” (6)

In a December 19, 2003 analysis of Iran's nuclear program posted on CDI's web site, Michael Ledeen wrote:

“Alas, there is no sign that the West is willing to accept the truth about Iran, and therefore the imperative for action. Instead, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell pronounced himself ‘very happy’ with a feeble UN criticism of Iran’s nuclear program that bemoans Iran’s longstanding violation of its international agreements but does not shut down the program. At the moment the world is trusting that the Iranian rulers have been true to their word, and suspended their uranium enrichment…despite the explicit statement by Iranian National Security Council head Hassan Rohani during a news conference on Saturday, ‘Our uranium enrichment program has been suspended voluntarily, temporarily, to build trust,’ he said, adding that ‘the issue of ending uranium enrichment is not in question and never has been nor will be.’

“As for the inspections promised yesterday, we are all diligently repeating the same mistake we made with Saddam Hussein, and the Iranian rulers are copying his methods…Just as we gave the terror masters nearly a year and a half to scatter and hide the Iraqi weapons, and organize their Iraq strategy, so we are giving the Iranians precious time to pursue their weapons program and solidify internal terror.”

Amitay, the former director of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, shares Ledeen's scorn for the State Department, where the prevailing mind-set is that there is “no tyrannical regime [that] can’t be made a friend by showing our good will.” CDI’s founders and associates form part of a tight circle of neocon groups closely allied with militarists in Israel. Ledeen, one of the colorful and shadowy figures in the neocon web, believes that the “appeasers” in Congress and the State Department stand in the way of regime change in Iran. A longtime critic of Colin Powell and other Republican realpolitikers, Ledeen charged that the appeasers in Washington “prefer to schmooze with the mullahs” than to promote “democratic revolution in Iran” supported by U.S. aid and military action. (7) (8)

In a November 2003 article for the National Review Online, Ledeen argued that the “appeasers” in Congress and the State Department “don't want to know about Iran, because if they did, they would be driven to take actions that they do not want to take. They would have to support democratic revolution in Iran.” Ledeen concludes, “I guess some top official will have to die at the hands of (obviously) Iranian-supported terrorists before the Pentagon is permitted to work on the subject.” (9)

In the view of CDI, the democratic opposition that is attempting to gradually reduce the power of the Council of the Guardians is counterproductive. According to CDI, “[President] Khatami is part of the problem, not the solution. He merely puts a gentler face on a brutal and oppressive system in order to stall and deflect international criticism…While Khatami monopolizes the reform mantle, there has been, outside of press attention, a growing broad-based movement for change in Iranian society. This popular movement, which spans Iran’s rich and diverse society, is pro-democratic and yearning to live in freedom.”

Just who are these freedom fighters? Based on statements and the links of CDI principals, they appear to be a diverse and unlikely coalition of monarchists, arms dealers like Ghorbanifar, and the Mojahedeen Khalq Organization (MKO), a guerrilla group based in Iraq. (10)


(1) “Individuals Expressing Support for the CDI,” CDI

(2) CDI Goals

(3) Cameron Kamran, “Iranians Don’t Need American Kingmakers,” International Herald Tribune, June 6, 2003

(4) See “Washington Might Have Picked Iran’s Future King and Premier,” Iran Press Service, June 3, 2003,
excerpting from article by William Beeman in The Daily Star (Beirut), June 2, 2003.


(6) “CDI Says Iran Must Be Deterred If We Are to Succeed in Iraq,” CDI Media Release, April 13, 2004

(7) Transcript of “The Future of Iran,” American Enterprise Institute conference, May 6, 2003,eventID.300/transcript.asp

(8) Michael Ledeen, “Unpunished Failure,” National Review Online, November 3, 2003

(9) “Michael Ledeen” Right Web Profile, December 2003

(10) Michael Ledeen, “Back the Freedom Fighters,” Washington Post, June 23, 2003;
Geneive Abdo, “Stay Out of Iran,” Washington Post, June 22, 2003.


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