Iran Calls Obama a Liar; They May Have a Point

The White House released a “fact sheet” that purported to summarize the deal it reached with Iran. It is telling that the administration’s summary is actually longer than the agreement itself; it contains a good deal of argument and wishful thinking. Like this:

Today, the P5+1 and Iran reached a set of initial understandings that halts the progress of Iran’s nuclear program and rolls it back in key respects.

That simply isn’t true. During the six months that this temporary agreement is intended to last, Iran’s nuclear program will not be halted. On the contrary, Iran will be permitted to enrich as much uranium as it chooses, and as its technical capacity permits, to 5%. And, as we noted here 5% enrichment represents 90% of the effort required to create nuclear weapons-grade uranium. So the Iranian nuclear program will not be “halted.”

Iran’s rulers apparently were outraged by the spin the Obama administration tried to put on the Geneva agreement. Iran’s Foreign Ministry protested:

The Iranian Foreign Ministry on Tuesday called invalid a press release by the White House alleged to be the text of the nuclear agreement struck by Iran and the Group 5+1 (the US, Russia, China, Britain and France plus Germany) in Geneva on Sunday.

“What has been released by the website of the White House as a fact sheet is a one-sided interpretation of the agreed text in Geneva and some of the explanations and words in the sheet contradict the text of the Joint Plan of Action (the title of the Iran-powers deal), and this fact sheet has unfortunately been translated and released in the name of the Geneva agreement by certain media, which is not true,” Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham said on Tuesday.

Iran published the actual text of the agreement in English, which we linked to here. It is revealing, I think, that Iran’s government publishes the text of the government wherever possible, while ours does not. That suggests which government is proud of it.

In some respects, I find the Obama administration’s characterization of the agreement puzzling. For example, the administration’s “fact sheet” says:

Iran has committed to halt progress on the growth of its 3.5% stockpile:

* Not increase its stockpile of 3.5% low enriched uranium, so that the amount is not greater at the end of the six months than it is at the beginning, and any newly enriched 3.5% enriched uranium is converted into oxide.

I can’t find a single reference to 3.5% enriched uranium anywhere in the text of the agreement, nor do I see any suggestion that Iran’s stockpiles of enriched uranium are to be stable over the next six months.

More fundamental is the fact that Iran has boasted that the agreement recognizes its permanent right to enrich uranium. The Obama administration has tried to deny this claim, but it seems obvious that Iran is correct. In describing the elements of a “final step of a comprehensive solution,” the agreement says this about Iran’s ability to continue enriching uranium indefinitely:

The final step would:

Involve a mutually defined enrichment programme with mutually agreed parameters consistent with practical needs, with agreed limits on scope and level of enrichment activities, capacity, where it is carried out, and stocks of enriched uranium, for a period to be agreed upon.

This is the conclusion:

Following successful implementation of the final step of the comprehensive solution for its full duration, the Iranian nuclear programme will be treated in the same manner as that of any non-nuclear weapon state party to the NPT.

I don’t know how to read that except as an acknowledgement that Iran will continue its enrichment program indefinitely and ultimately will be treated as a “normal” state with a nuclear energy capacity.

One yearns for the good old days when, if there was a conflict between the U.S. government and Iran’s mullahs, you could assume it was the American government that was telling the truth.