John Bolton repeats one of the Trump administration’s biggest and most important lies:

Donald Trump’s national security adviser said Wednesday there was “no reason” for Iran to back out of its nuclear deal with world powers other than to seek atomic weapons, a year after the U.S. president unilaterally withdrew America from the accord.

Bolton and other administration officials have promoted the lie that Iran seeks nuclear weapons for months. Unfortunately, members of Congress and the press have largely failed to call out these lies for what they are. There is no evidence to support the administration’s claims, and there is overwhelming evidence that they are wrong, but if they can get away with saying these things without being challenged they may not need evidence to get the crisis that Bolton and others like him want.

In this case, the AP story just relays Bolton’s false and misleading statements as if they should be taken seriously, and their headline trumpets Bolton’s dishonest insinuations as if they were credible. This is an unfortunate case of choosing the sensationalist, eye-catching headline that misinforms the public on a very important issue. Bolton’s latest remarks are especially pernicious because they use Iran’s modest reactions to Trump administration sanctions as evidence of Iran’s imaginary intent to acquire weapons. The U.S. has been trying to push Iran to abandon the deal for more than a year, and at the first sign that Iran begins to reduce its compliance in order to push back against the administration’s outrageous economic warfare Bolton tries to misrepresent it as proof that they seek nuclear weapons. Don’t fall for it, and don’t trust anything Bolton says. Not only does he have a record of distorting and manipulating intelligence to suit his purposes, but his longstanding desire for regime change and his ties to the Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK) make him an exceptionally unreliable person when it comes to any and all claims about the Iranian government.

The story provides some context, but still fails to challenge Bolton’s assertions:

Bolton said that without more nuclear power plants, it made no sense for Iran to stockpile more low-enriched uranium as it now plans to do. But the U.S. also earlier cut off Iran’s ability to sell its uranium to Russia in exchange for unprocessed yellow-cake uranium [bold mine-DK].

Iran has set a July 7 deadline for Europe to offer better terms to the unraveling nuclear deal, otherwise it will resume enrichment closer to weapons level. Bolton declined to say what the U.S. would do in response to that.

“There’s no reason for them to do (higher enrichment) unless it is to reduce the breakout time to nuclear weapons,” Bolton said.

Earlier this year, the Trump administration ended the sanctions waivers that enabled Iran to ship its excess low-enriched uranium out of the country. They made it practically impossible for Iran to do what they have been reliably doing for years, and now Bolton blames Iran for the consequences of administration actions. The administration has deliberately put Iran in a bind so that they either give up the enrichment that they are entitled to do under the JCPOA or exceed the restrictions on their stockpile so that the U.S. can then accuse them of a violation. Left out in all of this is that the U.S. is no longer a party to the deal and violated all of its commitments more than a year ago. Iran has patiently remained in compliance while the only party to breach the agreement desperately hunts for a pretext to accuse them of some minor infraction.

Iran’s record of full compliance with the JCPOA for more than three years hasn’t mattered to Bolton and his allies in the slightest, and they have had no problem reneging on U.S. commitments, but now the same ideologues that have wanted to destroy the deal from the start insist on treating the deal’s restrictions as sacrosanct. These same people have worked to engineer a situation in which Iran may end up stockpiling more low-enriched uranium than they are supposed to have, and then seize on the situation they created to spread lies about Iran’s desire for nukes. It’s all so obviously being done in bad faith, but then that is what we have come to expect from Iran hawks and opponents of the nuclear deal. Don’t let them get away with it.

The reason that Iran is threatening to enrich its uranium to a higher level is that the U.S. has been relentlessly sanctioning them despite their total compliance with the terms of the JCPOA. The Trump administration has done all it could to deny Iran the benefits of the deal, and then Bolton has the gall to say that they have no other reason to reduce their compliance. Of course Iran does have another reason, and that is to put pressure on the other remaining parties to the deal to find a way to get Iran the benefits it was promised. It is a small step taken in response to the administration’s own destructive policy, and it is not evidence of anything else. Iran is not seeking nuclear weapons, and it is grossly irresponsible to treat unfounded administration claims about this as anything other than propaganda and lies.

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