Iran Accuses Josh Earnest of Breaking Nuclear Deal–Really

Josh Earnest (Mark Wilson / Getty)
Josh Earnest (Mark Wilson / Getty)

The Iranian regime has filed a complaint with the International Atomic Energy Agency, alleging that the United States has already broken the Iran deal.

The complaint cites remarks by White House press secretary Josh Earnest about the possible use of military force in the long run, and the use of nuclear inspections to gain intelligence about Iran’s nuclear facilities in the meantime. These are frequent talking points that the White House uses to reassure legislators like Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA). Iran calls them a “material breach” of the nuclear deal itself.

According to the text of the Iran deal itself (page 20), any of the parties can treat “significant nonperformance” of the agreement “as grounds
to cease performing its commitments under this JCPOA.”

David Gerstman of Legal Insurrection notes that the 65 days it could take for the complaint process to be exhausted would line up almost exactly with the 60-day deadline for Congress to approve the deal. That would give Iran an excuse to use Congress’s rejection to justify its own withdrawal. Or Iran could just be building a case for pulling out on a whim later.

There are two more immediate consequences of Iran’s complaint.

One is to expose President Barack Obama’s “military option” as a complete fraud. Obama (and, this week, Schiff) claim that rejecting the deal would lead to war, while a war at a later date would be more advantageous due to intelligence the U.S. would gain through inspections.

As the Iranian complaint–correctly!–notes, the deal does not allow the U.S. to use the IAEA to gain intelligence on Iran. And the UN would now reject a war against Iran, since its prior resolutions have been cancelled.

The second consequence of Iran’s complaint is that the “robust debate” Obama claims he wants to have on the deal is about to be severely curtailed.

If remarks by Obama’s PR flack, or in congressional testimony, or on the op-ed pages can be construed as material breaches of the Iran deal, there may be pressure to cease all such talk.

In the same way that talk of “radical Islam” is seen as fueling terror, mere discussion of the “military option” may be taboo. We may soon find we have agreed to trade away that much of our liberty to a totalitarian regime.


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