Fact-Check: No, the Israeli Military Did Not Say Iran Deal Stopped Iran’s Nuclear Program

Iran nuclear plant
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During Tuesday night’s vice presidential debate, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) claimed several times in the vice presidential debate that the Iran deal stopped, or even “eliminated,” the Iranian nuclear program. Midway through the debate, he tried to cite the Israeli military in his defense: “even the Israeli military” agreed, he said.

Fact check: FALSE.

Kaine used a repeated — and made-up — Obama administration talking point, citing supposed “experts” inside Israeli intelligence who back the Iran deal. 

In August, the Israeli government responded directly to Obama’s claim — which Kaine, regrettably, repeated.

As the Times of Israel reported:

A top minister close to Netanyahu, meanwhile, directly contradicted Obama’s assertion that Israeli security officials now back the accord. “I don’t know to which Israelis he (Obama) spoke recently. But I can promise you that the position of the prime minister, the defense minister and of most senior officials in the defense establishment has not changed,” Tzachi Hanegbi told The Times of Israel.

“The opposite is the case. The time that has elapsed since the deal was signed proved all our worries that, regrettably, we were justified before the deal was made,” said Hanegbi, a minister who works in the Prime Minister’s Office and who until recently chaired the Knesset’s powerful Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. 

The Defense Ministry used more emotive language to contradict Obama.

“The Israeli defense establishment believes that agreements have value only if they are based on the existing reality, but they have no value if the facts on the ground are the complete opposite of those the deal is based upon,” the Ministry said in a statement.

Later, Kaine repeated his claim, citing Gadi Eizenkot, one of Israel’s military leaders. Eizenkot was cautiously optimistic about the deal when it went into effect, but did not say that it had stopped or eliminated Iran’s nuclear program, nor even that it prevented an Iranian nuclear weapon. He said that the deal “has many risks, but also presents many opportunities.” That is far from Kaine’s claim.

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