Obama Defends Iran Deal with Falsehoods and Slurs

Answering the top lies in the president's speech at American University.

Remember President Obama’s outright lies as he was selling Obamacare? He is now lying on an even larger scale as he tries to sell his fatally flawed nuclear deal with Iran to a skeptical Congress, and to the American people, who currently oppose the deal by a large margin.

In an address that Obama delivered on August 5th at American University, Obama deliberately misrepresented the terms of his deal and slurred those who dare to question it. In a highly offensive and partisan tone, he accused the Republican caucus of being in “common cause” with Iran’s hardliners opposed to the deal, ignoring the serious reservations to the deal among many in his own party and the American public at large.

At the outset of his speech, Obama claimed that “we have achieved a detailed arrangement that permanently prohibits Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”

False. At best, even if Iran were to fully comply with all of its commitments, Iran will be no more than a decade and a half away from being on the threshold of obtaining a nuclear weapon. In fact, during an NPR interview last April, Obama himself acknowledged a real concern regarding Iran’s future capacity, even if the deal’s terms are followed to the letter, to develop enough enriched uranium to build a nuclear bomb very quickly. He said then that the “relevant fear” is “in Year 13, 14, 15, they have advanced centrifuges that enrich uranium fairly rapidly, and at that point, the breakout times would have shrunk almost down to zero.”

Now, in order to sell his deal, Obama is falsely claiming that the deal “cuts off all of Iran's pathways to a bomb.”  It does no such thing. All it does is to install a temporary, removable “slow down” sign.

Obama claimed in his American University speech that his deal “contains the most comprehensive inspection and verification regime ever negotiated to monitor a nuclear program.” 

The elaborate, time consuming mechanisms Obama assented to, which make it easy for Iran to place hurdles in the way of timely International Atomic Energy Agency inspections of undeclared suspect sites, is anything but a “comprehensive inspection and verification regime.” It is not the “anytime, anywhere” inspections that we were led to believe were essential to include in the final deal, given Iran’s record as a serial cheater.

Obama tried to put lipstick on the pig as best as he could. First, he claimed in his speech that “If there is a reason for inspecting a suspicious undeclared site anywhere in Iran, inspectors will get that access even if Iran objects. This access can be with as little as 24 hours notice.” Then, he said not to worry that in fact Iran will be able to delay any inspections of undeclared sites for at least 24 days, because “we will be watching” and “nuclear material isn't something you hide in the closet.” Maybe, but 24 days is more than enough time to hide or destroy evidence of some prohibited work such as development of components for nuclear bombs or warheads that require little space to accomplish.

Olli Heinonen, a former deputy director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, explained that “Much of this equipment is very easy to move. So you can take it out over the night … and then there is this dispute settlement time which is 24 days—you will use that to sanitize the place, make new floors, new tiles on the wall, paint the ceiling and take out the ventilation.” 

Moreover, Obama’s attempt to compare his deal favorably with prior nuclear deals negotiated with the Soviet Union leaves out an essential difference in terms of deterrence. President Ronald Reagan negotiated from a position of strength. He drew red lines on such issues as his strategic defense initiative, which he refused to bargain away. He substantially increased U.S. military power, including undertaking an historic offensive nuclear-modernization program. Obama, by contrast, negotiated from a position of weakness. He has presided over the deterioration of the U.S. military, while effectively taking the use of military force against Iran off the table and frittering away the sanctions tool.  

After obfuscating the terms of his nuclear deal with Iran, President Obama then pivoted to a critique of the mindset that he claimed led to the war in Iraq. His point was that diplomacy is preferable to war. That’s true up to a point. However, as Winston Churchill said with regard to Neville Chamberlain’s “peace in our time” Munich pact, “You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor and you will have war.”

Obama blamed “the decision to invade Iraq” for “consequences” that we still have to live with, including the rise of ISIS. This is revisionist history. As a result of the surge ordered by President George W. Bush, the enemy was defeated in Iraq. When Obama took office, Iraq was relatively stable. Things were so good in 2010 that Vice President Joe Biden claimed an Obama administration victory in Iraq: "I am very optimistic about -- about Iraq. I mean, this could be one of the great achievements of this administration… I spent -- I've been there 17 times now. I go about every two months -- three months. I know every one of the major players in all of the segments of that society. It's impressed me. I've been impressed how they have been deciding to use the political process rather than guns to settle their differences."

What led to the descent of Iraq into chaos under a resurgent jihadist ISIS onslaught was Obama’s decision, against the advice of his military commanders, to precipitously withdraw all American troops out of Iraq in 2011.

Obama also implied that there was a warmongering mindset gripping the opponents of his deal. He said that “many of the same people who argued for the war in Iraq are now making the case against the Iran nuclear deal.”

This is a misleading attack on the good faith of those whom have raised serious objections to the weak outcome achieved by Obama’s negotiating team. While there is some overlap between the proponents of the Iraq war and the opponents of the Iran nuclear deal, each position has to be analyzed on its own merits. Intelligence services, upon which many in both parties relied in 2002-2003 in supporting the congressional resolution authorizing the Iraq war – including Hillary Clinton – turned out to be wrong about Saddam Hussein’s possession of wide scale weapons of mass destruction. In the case of Iran, there is little doubt now as to the breadth of Iran’s nuclear program, even though our intelligence services for years had underestimated it. 

The issue is not between war and Obama’s nuclear deal, as Obama would have us believe. Rather, the issue is using the leverage of sanctions to extract a better deal. A better deal would not have provided Iran with a path to a nuclear bomb by allowing a ramp-up to industrial-scale advanced centrifuges sufficient to enrich enough materials to build nuclear bombs. A better deal would not have included the last-minute concession leading to an unconditional lifting of international embargoes on Iran’s purchase and sale of conventional arms and its procurement of items, materials, goods and technology that could contribute to the development of nuclear weapon delivery systems. Why, if under the deal, “Iran will never have the right to use a peaceful program as cover to pursue a weapon,” according to Obama, would Iran ever be permitted to obtain ballistic missiles usable as nuclear weapons delivery systems, let alone in no more than 8 years? Why did Obama make this last-minute dangerous concession without getting anything in return? 

Obama asserted in his speech that “The choice we face is ultimately between diplomacy or some form of war. Maybe not tomorrow, maybe not three months from now, but soon.”

The truth is that Iran is already in the midst of its own 35 year war with the United States. It started in 1979 with the taking of 52 Americans hostages whom were held in captivity for more than a year. Today, the Iranian regime still engages in the tactic of hostage taking. Three Americans are languishing in Iranian prison cells and a fourth American is unaccounted for. In between, Iran was behind the bombing of the U.S. embassy and Marine barracks in Beirut, killing over 250 Americans. Their terrorist proxy Islamic Jihad kidnapped CIA officer William F. Buckley, who died in captivity in 1985. Their improvised explosive devices (IEDs) killed or injured many American soldiers during the Iraqi war. The daughter of one of the soldiers killed in action as a result of an exploding IED, U.S. Army Lt. Col. Leon James, wrote a heartfelt column entitled “Iran’s War on America” that Obama should read before continuing to lecture others on how his deal will save us from war with Iran.  

Obama also used his speech at American University to try and isolate Israel. He claimed that “this is such a strong deal, every nation in the world that has commented publicly, with the exception of the Israeli government, has expressed support.” 

The Obama administration has been engaging in a give-away tour to induce the Gulf state countries that have had reservations regarding the deal to either support it or remain quiet. Even so, Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan, who served as Saudi ambassador to the United States between 1981 and 2005, compared the deal with Iran to the failed nuclear deal with North Korea. That is an apt comparison, given that Wendy Sherman of the State Department was a lead negotiator in both cases. Prince Bandar wrote that “the strategic foreign policy analysis, the national intelligence information, and America's allies in the region's intelligence all predict not only the same outcome of the North Korean nuclear deal but worse - with the billions of dollars that Iran will have access to."  

Saudi Arabia’s leaders may now hold their tongue in public in order not to jeopardize any arms deals being worked out with the Obama administration as a consolation prize. However, their actions will speak louder than their words. Saudi Arabia may well pursue its own path to a nuclear bomb, which could include purchases from Pakistan. The resulting nuclear arms race in the Middle East will make war more likely in the region, not less, with potential unintended consequences beyond the region.

In any case, even if Israel were the only remaining country to publicly express serious misgivings about Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, it would have every right to do so as a matter of self-defense. As Obama himself conceded in his American University address, it is “Israel, which Iranian leaders have repeatedly threatened to destroy.” 

President Obama said that it is a tradition of American foreign policy to “debate matters of war and peace in the cold light of truth.” Obama’s repeated misrepresentations of the terms of his nuclear deal with Iran and his falsely partisan dismissal of opponents of the deal as displaying only the mindset of war violates that tradition.

Finally, President Obama asked the American people to contact their representatives in Congress to “remind them of who we are, remind them of what is best in us and what we stand for so that we can leave behind a world that is more secure and more peaceful for our children.”

That’s a good idea as long as we also remind our representatives in Congress that an Iran equipped with nuclear bombs and inter-continental missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons, which Obama’s deal will allow within a decade and a half, will leave behind a world that is far less secure and far less peaceful for our children and grandchildren. 

 

 

 

 

 

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