When the secretary of state says, as John Kerry did last week in his Senate testimony, that the Obama White House is “guaranteeing” Iran won’t have the bomb, you can be sure that—well, you can be pretty confident that he doesn’t mean it. And that someday soon he’ll pretend he never said it.
When the administration started its negotiations, the Iranians were going to have to dismantle their entire nuclear weapons program, said Obama, centrifuges and all. Instead, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) grants the program international legitimacy. Even the president acknowledges that when the deal expires, Iran will have a clear path to a bomb. So what can Kerry possibly mean when he guarantees they won’t?
Until very recently, skeptics of the nuclear deal focused on the clerical regime’s propensity for lying and cheating. As critics of the JCPOA pointed out, there is very little in the inspection and verification provisions to ensure that Tehran will abide by it. The agreement puts the world in the position of having to trust the say-so of a ruling clique that advances its goals through stealth and terror. Who in their right mind would trust the Islamic Republic?
As it turns out, an equally pressing problem is on the other side—our side. The White House is making a habit of deceiving the American people—and lawmakers—about the agreement it’s struck with Iran.
Rather than abide by the Corker-Cardin bill that requires congressional approval of the JCPOA, the administration took it to the U.N., where the Security Council approved it unanimously. Just as the White House intended, the U.N. vote has created a situation where the representatives of the American people are at odds with the rest of the world.
Later in the week, another White House subterfuge came to light. Sen. Tom Cotton and Rep. Mike Pompeo went to Vienna, where International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) officials explained that the U.N. organization had struck two secret side deals, presumably brokered by the administration. One concerns Parchin, a military base believed to be part of the regime’s nuclear weapons program, and the other deals with the possible military dimensions of the program. The administration knows the details but has yet to share them with Congress.
“Parchin and PMDs are not tertiary issues,” Pompeo told us. “These are at the center of negotiations. And when the administration couldn’t reach an agreement, Kerry punted it to the IAEA.” Maybe the side agreements are fine, says Pompeo. “When we see them we may find out they’re great, well written, and important. But we don’t have them and the administration is committed to provide every element to Congress. I’d never expect any member to vote on provisions that we won’t get to see.”
The Obama team is doing an end run around Congress and lying to the people who elected it. Kerry took to the Sunday talk shows last week claiming that the administration had never promised anytime/anywhere inspections of Iranian nuclear facilities. On Fox News Sunday, Kerry said: “I never, in four years, had a discussion about anywhere, anytime.” Anytime/anywhere, Kerry said on Face the Nation, “is a term that honestly I never heard in the four years that we were negotiating. It was not on the table.”
To the contrary, as recently as April, deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes promised that the Western negotiators were going to secure anytime/anywhere inspections. Energy secretary Ernest Moniz, who sat next to Kerry throughout the Iran talks, also said, “we expect to have anywhere, anytime access” to Iranian facilities. Kerry’s lieutenant, Wendy Sherman, was at least forthright when she said that anytime/anywhere was rhetorical overreach. The administration didn’t really mean it. Kerry preposterously maintains they didn’t even say it.
Last week the secretary of state’s nose grew longer and longer nearly every time he opened his mouth. According to the terms of the deal, said Kerry, Iran is not allowed to fund and arm terrorist allies like Hezbollah. Nope, said the Iranians, correctly, there’s nothing like that in the deal. Indeed, the deal lifts the U.N. arms embargo. Accordingly, Iran’s deputy foreign minister Abbas Araqchi said Iran told the Western negotiators that “we will supply arms to anyone and anywhere necessary and will import weapons from anywhere we want, and we have clarified this during the negotiations.”
Perhaps oddest of all, Kerry kept lying about whether sanctions had been lifted on Quds Force commander Qassem Suleimani. Kerry denied it when the terms of the deal were first made public. Administration spokespersons set the record straight, explaining that, yes, U.N. nuclear-related sanctions would no longer apply to Suleimani in eight years’ time. And yet in a press conference with Saudi foreign minister Adel Jubeir two days after the correction had been made, Kerry still insisted Suleimani was not coming off the sanctions list.
The administration must believe it’s okay to make stuff up, that the American public doesn’t really care and would rather be tweeting about Sharknado. But if it’s such a good deal, why does it need to be kept out of the sunlight?
The administration’s stealth, subterfuge, and lies have revealed one very big truth: It knows the deal won’t withstand the scrutiny of the American people and their representatives.