Fact Check: Jen Psaki Claims Iran’s Proxy Wars, Increased Capabilites Only Started After Trump Left Nuclear Deal


CLAIM: “None” of Iran’s “increased capability and capacity, the aggressive actions they have taken through proxy wars around the world” would be happening if President Donald Trump had not left the Iran nuclear deal in 2018.

VERDICT: FALSE. Iran was expanding its nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities, as well as pursuing proxy wars throughout the Middle East, even under the Iran deal and during President Barack Obama’s administration.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki, asked by a reporter Wednesday about the ongoing negotiations with Iran, made the absurd claim above that “none” of Iran’s increased nuclear capacity or proxy wars took place before Trump pulled out of the Iran deal.

It was a ridiculous claim. Before the deal was approved by the United Nations (since Obama bypassed the Senate), then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a speech to Congress warning specifically that the deal did nothing about Iran’s proxy wars and its threats to its neighbors. Obama signed the deal anyway, and Iran expanded its proxy wars in Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and elsewhere in the Middle East.

Trump did not stop Iran’s proxy wars, but he did make them far more difficult, thanks to sanctions that made it harder for Iran’s proxies to fund their operations, and thanks to the targeted killing in 2020 of Iranian terrorist mastermind Qasem Soleimani in Iraq — which then-candidate Joe Biden openly opposed.

As for Iran’s “increased capability and capacity,” the ink was barely dry on the deal when Iran began an aggressive program of ballistic missile tests. It turned out that these were not, in fact, against the deal; Obama had misled the American public, falsely promising that there would be missile restrictions in the deal; the terms of the restrictions were weak and non-binding.

Moreover, Netanyahu revealed in 2018 that Iran had continued pursuing its forbidden nuclear program even after the deal was implemented. His evidence: a stunning collection of files that Israel managed to steal from Iran in a covert operation.

It is true that Iran began violating the terms of the deal more openly and brazenly after Trump withdrew from the deal, but the deal allowed Iran to pursue its nuclear program anyway after about a decade — which is exactly why Trump withdrew.

Psaki’s claim is an effort to deflect blame for a diplomatic approach that is not working — one that is simply buying time for Iran to continue pursuing its nuclear program with great zeal while President Biden’s envoys wring their hands in Austria.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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