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NYTimes Moves the Goalposts on Iran Inspections, Blames Critics in Congress

As it becomes increasingly clear that the nuclear deal with Iran will not live up to promises made just a few months ago, the Obama administration is getting some help moving the goalposts from the New York Times.

A piece published Wednesday by the Times concedes the final deal probably won’t live up to expectations in some areas, including the all-important issue of inspections. Author David Sanger writes, “American officials have already made it clear that whatever emerges will fall short of the “anywhere, anytime” mantra of critics in Congress, and elsewhere.

Anyone reading this would conclude the deal is only falling short because of the unreasonable demands of Republican critics. But that’s simply not the case. The US fact sheet on the deal, which was published by the State Department in April, reads, “Iran will be required to grant access to the IAEA to investigate suspicious sites or allegations of a covert enrichment facility, conversion facility, centrifuge production facility, or yellowcake production facility anywhere in the country.” That seems like a fairly clear promise, and it did not come from critics.

More to the point, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, who worked directly on the deal, was even more definitive about the nature of inspections in April, “We expect to have anywhere, anytime access.” There’s that phrase, the one the Times is trying to pin on critics, only it’s once again coming from the Obama administration itself.

To be fair, its GOP critics have used the “anywhere, anytime” formula to criticize the deal; however, some of those criticisms came after Iran publicly rejected the US fact sheet and the idea of unlimited access to Iran’s military sites. In other words, critics seized on the language when it became clear it was contested. But again, the promise of “anywhere in the country” inspections didn’t originate with the GOP.

The sentence the Times seems desperate to avoid is this: The inspections regime is not living up to the Obama administration’s promises. Of course, that could change at any minute, but for the now at least the gap between hype and reality must be placed at the administration’s own feet.

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