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Obama administration uses lies and half truths to sell the Iran deal

By Missing Peace

This article first appeared at Western Journalism.com

On Sunday, Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz appeared on the five major Sunday morning news shows in the U.S. to defend Tuesday’s nuclear agreement with Iran.

Here’s the Fox News Sunday interview:

The duo tried to address the most pressing concerns about the deal, but obviously failed and even retorted to half truths and outright lies.

Take, for example, Kerry’s defense against criticism that the deal effectively turns Iran into a nuclear threshold power because instead of dismantling Iran’s nuclear program, the deal puts it under international protection. This situation will continue until, 15 years from now, Iran emerges as a legal nuclear power with the ability to build a nuclear weapon at will.

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Here is a part of the interview with Kerry on CNN’s State of the Union dealing with the issue:

Question: I’ve spoken to a lot of experts, ones who wanted this deal to be good, who were rooting for you. And they say the best case scenario is that over the next 15 years… the Iranians will be closer to the capacity to build a nuclear weapon… and they’ll have done it all under the guise of international law.

Kerry: … Guess what, my friend: Iran had 12,000 kilograms of highly enriched uranium, and that’s enough if they enriched it further for 10 to 12 bombs. They had it. That’s what Barack Obama was dealt as a hand when he came in: 19,000 centrifuges already spinning; a country that had already mastered the fuel cycle; a country that already was threshold in the sense that they are only two months away from breakout.

Sounds convincing, but there is a serious problem with Kerry’s answer.

The Iranians didn’t have 12,000 kg of highly enriched uranium (HEU) when Obama took office; they had 0 kg of HEU. Kerry might have been thinking of the 12,000 kg of low enriched uranium (LEU) they had by 2014, but that doesn’t work either because the Iranians stockpiled most of that under Obama–as of February 2009, they only had 1,010 kg of LEU. They also didn’t have “19,000 centrifuges already spinning”; they had3,936 centrifuges spinning. And they were not 2 months away from breakout but instead were just getting around to stockpiling enough uranium for a single bomb.

So Kerry lied, and it didn’t stop there.

When he was asked about the administration’s collapse on the anytime/anywhere IAEA inspections of Iran’s nuclear and military sites during interviews with CBS’ Face the Nation and Fox News Sunday, Kerry claimed:

“There’s no such thing in arms control as anytime, anywhere. There isn’t any nation in the world – none – that has an anytime, anywhere.” (CBS)

And: “The fact is that in arms control there is no country anywhere on this planet that has anywhere, anytime. There is no such standard within arms control inspections… we never, ever had a discussion about anywhere, anytime. It’s called managed access. It’s under the IAEA. Everybody understands it.” (Fox)

Is there really no such thing as anytime/anywhere inspections?

‘Anytime/anywhere’ is shorthand for an existing IAEA inspection regime that guarantees unfettered access to any site within about a day, and is just another way of describing an IAEA snap inspection regime that covers declared and suspect sites. IAEA chief Yukiya Amano has explicitly called for these snap inspections, prompting the Iranians to call him out by name and again reject the condition.

David Albright, a former weapons inspector and now president of the Institute for Science and International Security, has said that a deal must include “inspector access to Iranian sites where suspicious activity may be occurring, including military sites, anywhere and promptly, or ‘anytime,’ and certainly within 24 hours.”

Olli Heinonen, a 27 year IAEA veteran who headed the agency’s verification department, said that “unfettered access to sites, facilities, material, equipment, people, and documents is imperative to the credible long-term verification of any nuclear agreement with Iran. Access request to inspect any site – declared or suspect – with a reason, should be gained in short notice to avoid tampering that could compromise the verification objectives.”

Former CIA and NSA director Michael Hayden agreed with Albright and Heinonen: “I do think anytime, anywhere inspections are absolutely essential.”

There was more on this issue. Kerry claimed during the same interviews that the negotiators never intended to secure these anytime/anywhere inspections.

Here’s what Fox News Sunday asked Kerry about the concession that would allow Iran to sit in a panel with the six world powers to determine if IAEA inspectors would be allowed suspected sites after 24 days (!).

Question: “President Obama and both of you talked about insisting on anytime, anywhere inspections. But what you ended up with is that Iran can keep us out of its most secret, most suspicious sites for up to 24 days. Secretary Kerry, three and a half weeks is not anytime, anywhere.”

Kerry: “Well, that’s not accurate that we ever – I never, in four years, had a discussion about anywhere, anytime.”

This was an outright lie too. Only last week, U.S. chief negotiator Wendy Sherman told Israeli reporters that negotiators used it; but it was “just a rhetorical flourish.”

“I think this is one of those circumstances where we have all been rhetorical from time to time,” Shermantold The Jerusalem Post.

Obama’s deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes told CNN last April: “First of all, under this deal, you will have anywhere/anytime 24/7 access.” He said the same thing to Israel Channel 10.

Secretary Moniz himself told Bloomberg that “we expect to have anywhere, anytime access.”

Another issue that has drawn sharp criticism is the concession on the United Nations arms embargo against Iran. The U.S. gave in to the Iranian demand to lift the embargo after Iran made clear that it could be a deal breaker–and after Chinese and Russian pressure.

Kerry justified this concession as follows:

This is a nuclear negotiation about a nuclear program. The United Nations, when they passed the resolution, contemplated that if Iran came to the negotiation and they ponied up, all the sanctions would be lifted. We didn’t lift all the sanctions. We left in place despite the fact that three out of seven countries negotiating wanted to do away with them altogether. We won the five years for the arms and eight years for the missiles.

Here again, Kerry didn’t speak the truth. The condition for lifting the arms embargo was not that Iran “come to negotiations.” UNSC resolution 1929 stipulated that the embargo was to remain in place until Iran had complied with UNSC resolution 1929 plus past UNSCR resolutions 1696, 1737, 1747, and 1803.

These UNSC resolutions obligated Iran to stop all uranium enrichment, cease all heavy water plutonium work, and halt all development of proliferation sensitive ballistic missiles. So the arms embargo was to remain in place until Iran dismantled its nuclear program, not until it agreed to negotiate.

These are only a few examples of the inaccuracies, half-truths, and outright lies that Moniz and Kerry used in their attempt to sell the deal to the American public.

Meanwhile, Israel exposed another lie the administration used to silence criticism from opponents of the deal.

A senior Israeli official told the Times of Israel that President Obama lied when he said that critics of the nuclear agreement with Iran have failed to present better options.

“We have consistently laid out an alternative, which is a better deal that actually blocks Iran’s path to the bomb and links the lifting of restrictions on Iran to tangible changes in Iranian behavior,” the Israeli official said.

Omri Ceren contributed to this report