BBC News website misleads on JCPOA

On September 30th the BBC News website published an article titled “Iran nuclear deal: Tehran expects US to ditch agreement, says FM“.

The vast majority of that article’s word-count (over 78%) is allotted to the recycling of unchallenged statements from the Iranian foreign minister that appeared in interviews published the previous day by two British newspapers – the Financial Times and the Guardian.

In the article’s little original content, readers are told that:

“US President Donald Trump – a stern critic of the [JCPOA] deal – will announce next month whether he believes Iran has adhered to its terms.

If he says it has failed to do so, US Congress will begin the process of reimposing sanctions on Iran.”

Audiences are not informed of the fact that the process described in those two paragraphs is defined under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act – passed in 2015 – which requires the US administration to certify to Congress every ninety days that Iran is fully implementing the JCPOA.

Readers are also told that:

“France, Germany and the UK – which along with Russia and China signed the deal – have recently defended it.” [emphasis added]

That statement is inaccurate because the JCPOA was not actually signed – as MEMRI noted in July 2015:

“It should be emphasized that, contrary to how it is perceived, the JCPOA is not a bilateral or multilateral contract between the United States and/or Europe and Iran. Nothing has been signed and nothing is judicially binding between any of the parties. It is a set of understandings that was sent to a third party, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), for endorsement. This structure is a result of Iran’s insistence to not sign any bilateral or multilateral contract.” 

In a November 2015 letter to Representative Mike Pompeo, the US State Department clarified that:

“The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is not a treaty or an executive agreement, and is not a signed document.”

Clearly the BBC’s claim that the P5+1 “signed the deal” is misleading to BBC audiences and does not enhance their understanding of the story.

Related Articles:

BBC amplification of unchallenged Iranian messaging 

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