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October 10, 2016

Media Fact-Check Tim Kaine on Iran Deal Claims

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In last week’s Vice Presidential debate, Democratic nominee Tim Kaine claimed that, as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton “worked a tough negotiation with nations around the world to eliminate the Iranian nuclear weapons program without firing a shot.”

The National Review called Kaine’s claim “preposterous,” and Commentary Magazine said of Kaine’s various claims about the JCPOA, also known as the Iranian nuclear deal, that they are “not only largely false, but frightening in themselves.”

But lest those critiques be dismissed as coming from “conservative” outlets, other so-called “mainstream” media also said that Kaine’s claims simply weren’t true.

ABC News rated Kaine’s statement as “False”:

The nuclear agreement reached between six world powers and Iran last year does not completely eliminate the Iranian nuclear program. Its major achievement, as told by the Obama administration, was getting Iran to commit to reduce its stockpile of nuclear material and cease further enrichment, effectively extending the time it would take Iran to build a bomb.

The Washington Post wrote:

Kaine leans way over on his skis here. The Iranian nuclear agreement was actually negotiated by Clinton’s successor, John Kerry, though Clinton helped tee up the negotiations by increasing sanctions on the Islamic Republic. The deal, which has been sharply criticized by Republicans, did increase the amount of time that Iran would need to build a nuclear weapon by reducing its centrifuges for uranium enrichment and its stockpile of enriched uranium. But the deal expires in 15 years, and Iran’s nuclear infrastructure remains in place.

While Iran has insisted it has no interest in building nuclear weapons, the deal does not eliminate the risk that it will obtain nuclear bombs.

Even NPR denied that the JCPOA eliminates Iran’s nuclear program:

HORSLEY: Well, Tim Kaine stretched the facts in a couple of ways here - first, on Hillary Clinton's role in the Iran nuclear deal. Certainly, she did help put in place the very tough international sanctions that helped bring Iran to the bargaining table. But the deal itself was hammered out not by Clinton, but by her successor at the State Department, John Kerry.

Secondly - and this is behind that skepticism you hear from Mike Pence - on the effect of the Iran nuclear deal, it does not eliminate Iran's nuclear program. What it does do is put strict limits on that program and stretches out the time it would take Iran to develop a nuclear bomb. Before the deal, that so-called breakout time was estimated at around two months. It's now at least a year, and it's expected to stay year for at least a decade.

GREENE: OK. So we might not know the true impact of this deal for some time, it sounds like.

HORSLEY: That's right. But not eliminated.

GREENE: Not eliminated.

The JCPOA did not eliminate Iran’s nuclear weapons program. And to their credit, media outlets are reporting this.

Unfortunately, Hillary Clinton repeated a variation on the claim in Sunday’s debate, when she said,

I’ve stood up to Russia, I’ve taken on Putin and others, and I would do that as President. I think wherever we can cooperate with Russia that’s fine, and I did as Secretary of State, that’s how we got a treaty reducing nuclear weapons, it’s how we got the sanctions on Iran that put a lid on the Iranian nuclear program without firing a single shot.

Let’s see if the media fact-check this as well.

--kb

Posted by SC at October 10, 2016 12:35 PM

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