Nick Wadhams reports on how administration officials have been displaying ignorance and confusion about the contents of the nuclear deal during their efforts to undermine it:
One of the proponents’ frustrations is the amount of time they’ve spent educating U.S. officials on what the deal does and doesn’t do. Officials with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Vienna-based body charged with verifying Iranian compliance, had to walk U.S. counterparts through the basics, according to three senior diplomats with close contact to the agency. Yukiya Amano, head of the IAEA, had to explain that agency monitoring doesn’t cover Iranian support for Hezbollah and meddling in the region [bold mine-DL].
It isn’t surprising that the administration officials in question don’t understand something as basic as what the IAEA does, but it should remind us how ill-informed and baseless their opposition to the deal is. The two top U.S. officials involved in public criticism of the deal, Tillerson and Haley, have no real foreign policy experience between them worth mentioning, and their arguments against the nuclear deal have been based on false assumptions and bogus claims. Administration officials are in such a hurry to find some pretext for reneging on the deal that they aren’t going to bother understanding it.
Hostility to the deal in this administration has been driven primarily by opposition to diplomatic engagement generally and to diplomacy with Iran in particular. Trump reflexively denounced the deal because Obama was responsible for it, and because antipathy to Iran seems to be one of the few constants in Trump’s view of the world, so he has never bothered learning what the deal does. He has been content to repeat false claims about the deal for years, and his officials have been doing likewise. They may not know what the deal actually does, but being informed about the deal isn’t going to change their opposition because that opposition has always been reflexive.