The White House and the State Department are pushing back with unusual vigor against a New York Times article Monday that reports that “Tehran’s stockpile of nuclear fuel increased about 20 percent over the last 18 months of negotiations.” The revelation, based on the most recent reports from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Institute for Science and International Security, contradicts President Barack Obama’s repeated claims to have “frozen” Iran’s progress toward a nuclear weapon. The new information also suggests that Iran is, or will be, in violation of the interim nuclear deal.
Instead of expressing concern about Iran’s behavior, State Department spokesperson Marie Harf and White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes have tried to discredit, discount and deny the Times story.
Harf unleashed a series of angry tweets on Wednesday attacking the article and its author, while Rhodes tweeted his assurance that Iran has “consistently” lived up to its end of the bargain. Both are insisting that any apparent non-compliance by Iran is either inadvertent or mistaken, and that the Iranian regime will meet its obligations to reduce its nuclear stockpile drastically by June 30.
Richard Nephew reaffirms Iran has not violated JPOA and has consistently met its obligation to cap stockpile on time http://t.co/Rwg6S10unw
— Ben Rhodes (@rhodes44) June 3, 2015
(The report to which Rhodes refers actually admits that the Iranian non-compliance “is an issue,” but argues, unconvincingly, that the excess material is “not a bomb’s worth,” and that “there should be some understanding for the complexity of the task on the part of the Iranians,” through Iran committed to that task knowing how difficult it might be.)
The trouble for the Obama administration is that no one believes it anymore, least of all the State Department press gallery, which chafed at Harf’s evasions on Wednesday.
There are several reasons for the administrations fading credibility. One is that the interim deal turned out to be far more lenient than even senior national security officials had been led to believe (it does not cover ballistic missiles, for example).
But the most important reason that no one believes the Obama administration is that the president has taken the military option off the table, most recently in an interview on Israeli television in which he said that there is no military solution to the problem.
Obama has demonstrated that he will do anything to preserve the façade of a nuclear deal–even though the Iranians continue to insist that they will not allow spot inspections of known nuclear facilities, much less military sites, to ensure compliance, and even though Iran continues its war against American allies and calls for “death to America” itself.
Iran would behave quite differently if it really worried about complying with the interim deal, and assuring the world that it had only peaceful intentions.
The simplest explanation for Iran’s failure to freeze its enrichment of uranium, or to convert the excess enrichment material in time, is that Iran knows it has a unique chance to build a bigger stockpile, and that Obama will not walk away.
Obama’s PR flacks cannot admit what Iran is doing, because then they would admit Obama has lied to the world. They protect Iran because in protecting Iran, they protect Obama.
Effectively, they are now tools of the Iranian regime.