On Tuesday, former president Barack Obama , eschewing the time-honored practice of refraining from criticizing his successor (as exemplified by George W. Bush), hastily issued a statement condemning President Trump for quitting the very Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA) that Obama and his administration lied about in order to sell to the American public.
Obama hilariously claimed, “The reality is clear. The JCPOA is working – that is a view shared by our European allies, independent experts, and the current U.S. Secretary of Defense. The JCPOA is in America’s interest – it has significantly rolled back Iran’s nuclear program.”
Obama added that some of the countries of Europe have signed on to the deal in the belief that the Iranians (who have proven to be liars) can be trusted: “Walking away from the JCPOA turns our back on America’s closest allies, and an agreement that our country’s leading diplomats, scientists, and intelligence professionals negotiated.”
He didn’t mention that even Saudi Arabia and the UAE approved of Trump’s decision, not to mention Israel.
Obama huffed, “Debates in our country should be informed by facts, especially debates that have proven to be divisive. So it’s important to review several facts about the JCPOA.”
Okay, let’s see what he had to offer:
First, the JCPOA was not just an agreement between my Administration and the Iranian government. After years of building an international coalition that could impose crippling sanctions on Iran, we reached the JCPOA together with the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the European Union, Russia, China, and Iran. It is a multilateral arms control deal, unanimously endorsed by a United Nations Security Council Resolution.
Well, there you are, forget American sovereignty. Long live the international regime! Worth noting: the deal was not between the United States and Iran – it was between Obama and Iran. The U.S. Senate didn’t sign off on the deal, so it wasn’t a treaty. It was merely an Obama administration policy, easily tossed out by the next president.
Second, the JCPOA has worked in rolling back Iran’s nuclear program. For decades, Iran had steadily advanced its nuclear program, approaching the point where they could rapidly produce enough fissile material to build a bomb. The JCPOA put a lid on that breakout capacity. Since the JCPOA was implemented, Iran has destroyed the core of a reactor that could have produced weapons-grade plutonium; removed two-thirds of its centrifuges (over 13,000) and placed them under international monitoring; and eliminated 97 percent of its stockpile of enriched uranium – the raw materials necessary for a bomb. So by any measure, the JCPOA has imposed strict limitations on Iran’s nuclear program and achieved real results.
Really. David Albright, the president and founder of the Institute for Science and International Security, told Bloomberg after Israeli intelligence retrieved a warehouse full of documents related to the Iranian nuclear program, “The most significant thing is that this is a warehoused collection intended to be used later for reconstitution. They could have destroyed these documents. But these were being carefully protected and hidden with the intention to reuse them when they launch their weapons program.” And Iran has already signaled — moments after Trump killed the deal — that they would ramp up their nuclear program faster than before. So much for the notion of a hampered Iranian capacity.
Back to Obama:
Third, the JCPOA does not rely on trust – it is rooted in the most far-reaching inspections and verification regime ever negotiated in an arms control deal. Iran’s nuclear facilities are strictly monitored. International monitors also have access to Iran’s entire nuclear supply chain, so that we can catch them if they cheat. Without the JCPOA, this monitoring and inspections regime would go away.
If you believe that, there’s this bridge in Brooklyn I can sell you. In October 2017, The Hill reported: “The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) last week admitted an inconvenient truth. “The U.N. watchdog,” said Yukiya Amano, “has proven unable to verify Iran’s compliance with Section T of the 2015 nuclear deal, which prohibits activities that could contribute to the development of a nuclear explosive device.”
“Fourth, Iran is complying with the JCPOA. That was not simply the view of my Administration. The United States intelligence community has continued to find that Iran is meeting its responsibilities under the deal, and has reported as much to Congress. So have our closest allies, and the international agency responsible for verifying Iranian compliance – the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).”
This, of course, neglects the crucial problem: the deal itself allows Iran to build ballistic missiles and foster terrorism around the Middle East, even as it socks away the crucial information for building a bomb until the deadline runs out.
Fifth, the JCPOA does not expire. The prohibition on Iran ever obtaining a nuclear weapon is permanent. Some of the most important and intrusive inspections codified by the JCPOA are permanent. Even as some of the provisions in the JCPOA do become less strict with time, this won’t happen until ten, fifteen, twenty, or twenty-five years into the deal, so there is little reason to put those restrictions at risk today.
This is simply a lie. The prohibition on Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon ends the day the deal ended. Everyone recognized that, including Iran.
Then, some blathering:
Finally, the JCPOA was never intended to solve all of our problems with Iran. We were clear-eyed that Iran engages in destabilizing behavior – including support for terrorism, and threats toward Israel and its neighbors. But that’s precisely why it was so important that we prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Every aspect of Iranian behavior that is troubling is far more dangerous if their nuclear program is unconstrained. Our ability to confront Iran’s destabilizing behavior – and to sustain a unity of purpose with our allies – is strengthened with the JCPOA, and weakened without it.
And some unintended hilarity: “We all know the dangers of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon.”
Well, yes. And just who was it that closed his eyes while Iran was lying all these years?
And the usual pie-in-the sky Obama conclusion: “We have been safer in the years since we achieved the JCPOA, thanks in part to the work of our diplomats, many members of Congress, and our allies.”