Five Things Last Night’s Debate Proved Donald Trump Doesn’t Understand About the Iran Deal

Logan Bayroff Image
Logan Bayroff
on September 27, 2016

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1. The agreement has been a huge success


Last night Trump said: “The worst deal I’ve ever seen negotiated that you started is the Iran deal.” In fact, experts agree that the deal is working.

Thanks to the JCPOA agreement, Iran has had its entire nuclear program defanged and every potential pathway to a nuclear weapon blocked. Iran has gotten rid of 97 percent of its enriched uranium; it has dismantled and removed over ⅔ of its centrifuges; its plutonium reactor has been filled with concrete. Its nuclear facilities are now subjected to the most stringent and transparent inspections and monitoring regime ever agreed.

2. The agreement prohibits Iran from ever pursuing nuclear weapons – and ensures permanent inspections to make sure they don’t.

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Last night Trump said “The deal with Iran will lead to nuclear problems. All they have to do is sit back 10 years, and they don’t have to do much.” The truth is that without the agreement, Iran could be just months away from developing a nuclear weapon. With it, their nuclear program is locked down for over a decade – and well beyond.

Some specific aspects of the agreement last 10 years, 15 years or 25 years. IAEA safeguards and access to Iranian nuclear sites are permanent. Even after 25 years, any Iranian nuclear activity not intended for peaceful use will be detected with time for the international community to intervene.

3. Secretary Clinton and President Obama put in place the tough sanctions that brought Iran to the negotiating table


Trump said: “You started the Iran deal, that’s another beauty where you have a country that was ready to fall, I mean, they were doing so badly. They were choking on the sanctions. And now they’re going to be actually probably a major power at some point pretty soon, the way they’re going.”

What he doesn’t know or has conveniently forgotten is that when the Bush administration left office, Iran was just weeks away from having enough nuclear material to build a bomb. It was President Obama and Secretary Clinton who helped put in place the harsh sanctions that brought Iran to the table.

The Secretary explained this perfectly in her own words last night:

“With respect to Iran, when I became secretary of state, Iran was weeks away from having enough nuclear material to form a bomb. They had mastered the nuclear fuel cycle under the Bush administration. They had built covert facilities. They had stocked them with centrifuges that were whirling away.

And we had sanctioned them. I voted for every sanction against Iran when I was in the Senate, but it wasn’t enough. So I spent a year-and-a-half putting together a coalition that included Russia and China to impose the toughest sanctions on Iran.

And we did drive them to the negotiating table. And my successor, John Kerry and President Obama got a deal that put a lid on Iran’s nuclear program without firing a single shot. That’s diplomacy. That’s coalition-building. That’s working with other nations.”

4. Many Israeli security experts have praised the agreement


Trump last night: “I met with Bibi Netanyahu the other day. Believe me, he’s not a happy camper.” It’s true that the Israeli Prime Minister is frequently not a “happy camper” – and that he strongly opposed the Iran agreement while it was being negotiated and before it was implemented. But since the agreement’s implementation, Prime Minister Netanyahu has said little about it publicly. Meanwhile, many of Israel’s top security leaders have praised it.

Current IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot has called the agreement a “strategic turning point.” Israel’s Atomic Energy Commission has endorsed the deal. Its former director, Uzi Eilam, has said the deal “was and remains a good agreement. It’s made Israel and the world safer.”

5. The deal was about preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons – and allows the US to continue to strongly oppose Iran’s other dangerous activities

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Trump said: “When they made that horrible deal with Iran, they should have included the fact that they do something with respect to North Korea. And they should have done something with respect to Yemen and all these other places. And when asked to Secretary Kerry, why didn’t you do that? Why didn’t you add other things into the deal?”

Of course, Iran is in many different ways a bad actor and a threat to the United States and Israel. That’s why it’s so important to prevent them from developing nuclear weapons – which is what the agreement successfully focused on. It doesn’t prevent the US from staunchly opposing Iran’s other nefarious activities – and tough sanctions remain in place on Iranian support for terror, human rights violations and ballistic missile development.

As Secretary Clinton said last night: “There’s no doubt that we have other problems with Iran. But personally, I’d rather deal with the other problems having put that lid on their nuclear program than still to be facing that.”