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Sometimes the source of information says more about a flimsy story than the information itself. That’s the real story behind Friday’s ridiculous accusation that the Associated Press forged the text of the IAEA side deal with Iran.

It started with the Director of Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’ Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-proliferation Programme (SIPRI), Tariq Rauf. Interviewed by the Huffington Post, Rauf declared the AP document looked like forgery.

According to a 2010 Washington Post article, Tariq Rauf was “outed” by Russian defector Sergei Tretyakov (who ran Russian spying operations in New York during the 1990s) as a Russian spy. The piece mentions that former Post reporter Pete Earley wrote a book with Tretyakov about his espionage career, where the former spymaster revealed several people in Canada and the U.S. as Russian spies by their spy code names.

Earley wrote,  “Sergei was called ‘the most important spy for the U.S. since the collapse of the Soviet Union’ by an FBI official in my book. Unfortunately, because much of what he said is still being used by U. S. counter-intelligence officers, it will be years before the true extent of his contribution can be made public — if ever.”

In the book, Tretyakov fingered several people in Canada and the United States by their code names as Russian agents:

One of the most prominent was a Pakistani-born Canadian scientist who Tretyakov identified only as “ARTHUR,” but who other authoritative sources in 2008 identified for me as Tariq Rauf, the principal official at the International Atomic Energy Agency responsible for determining whether Iran is building a nuclear weapon.

In the first of two interviews, Rauf declined an opportunity to flatly deny Tretyakov’s accusation. He also declined to say whether he knew or had ever met Tretyakov, who worked under diplomatic cover in Canada.

But in a second exchange, by e-mail, Rauf said he had “never” worked “for any intel types whatsoever.“

“I have worked for government and privately funded think tanks, and have been an academic researcher all through — ’til joining my current employer, where I am an impartial loyal international civil servant,” he said.

Author Earley said he had examined Tretyakov’s records — photographs, e-mail, even a restaurant napkin on which ARTHUR scribbled notes about Ukrainian missiles — to back up every allegation in the book.

“If they want to sue us, fine,” said Earley of all the Canadians Tretyakov fingered as spies. “We’ll just run Sergei up there with our stuff and see what happens.”

Rauf never filed suit.

As for his criticism of the AP document, Rauf points to phrases used in the document which are not part of the usual IAEA vernacular. The one being used by apologists for the rogue nation most often is that the Islamic “Republic” of Iran, was referred to once erroniously in the draft document as the Islamic “State” of Iran.

Of course, Rauf neglects to mention that the document was, indeed, a draft– but that its main points survived any subsequent revisions. In addition, the AP report is based on a transcription, as its reporters weren’t allowed to take possession of the classified document.

The charge that the document is a forgery was amplified by the National Iranian American Council’s (NIAC) Trita Parsi, who suggested that Israeli Premier Netanyahu gave the Associated Press the phony document.

Many other supporters of the P5+ deal picked up that meme blaming the usual suspects (the Jews). Not one of them mentioned the fact that the U.N. itself didn’t dispute the authenticity of the side deal text; just that it was being misinterpreted.

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It is little surprise that NIAC would trash the Associated Press document and blame Israel, In 2009, the Washington Times reported that Parsi had arranged meetings between [Mohammad] Javad Zarif–then Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations–and Members of Congress. One former law enforcement official interviewed by Lake said that such activity would, “require that person or entity to register as an agent of a foreign power.” Lake uses those and other documents to show that NIAC should be registered as an agent of the Iranian Government.

In 2008 NIAC sued blogger Hassan Daioleslam for defamation because he accused them of being a front group for the Iranian regime. But when Daioleslam counter-sued and asked for “discovery” documents, NIAC ignored parts of the court order and, per Business Insider, was cited by the court:

“for failing to produce calendar records documenting the activities of key employees, refusing to divulge existence of four computers, misrepresenting how its computer system was configured, failing to explain why it withheld thousands of e-mails from one of its key employees, delaying the sharing of its membership lists, and altering an important document after the lawsuit was brought.”

Many believed they were trying to hide the truth. In the end, the court ruled that NIAC and Mr. Parsi certainly looked like lobbyists (advocates) for Iran:

NIAC thought it had a case against Daioleslam. The US District Court for the District of Columbia disagreed, finding in 2012 that the work of NIAC president and founder Tritra Parsi was “not inconsistent with the idea that he was first and foremost an advocate for the regime.” The judge essentially found it was conceivable that NIAC could reasonably be accused of lobbying on behalf of Iran, so Daioleslam’s blog posts weren’t defamatory.

When you examine where the charges came from, the question of whether the Associated Press faked the side agreement with Iran is an easy one to answer.

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