Nikki Haley appeared on Face the Nation this morning and told a huge lie on national television:
JOHN DICKERSON: Because let’s be very clear though about the decision, because the UK is still telling its businesses to do business with Iran. President Trump said at the time, anyone doing business with Iran will not be doing business with the United States. Is that still the case and would it be the case for the UK?
AMB HALEY: That is still the case. And that’s the conversation for Prime Minister May and President Trump to have. But that’s still very much the case. We’re not going to give exemptions to Iran. We’re not going to give them any- allow them any money to continue to build their nuclear weapons [bold mine-DL] and so we’re going to continue to stay tough on this.
For the record, Iran has no nuclear weapons, and it has never had any. Iran is not building any nuclear weapons, and it is unable to build any because of the restrictions imposed by the nuclear deal that Trump reneged on. There has not been anything resembling a nuclear weapons program in Iran for at least fifteen years. If foreign companies do business in Iran, that is not going to lead to Iran’s development and building of nuclear weapons. The JCPOA makes that practically impossible for the duration of the agreement, and once Iran ratifies the IAEA’s Additional Protocol it isn’t going to happen. If the Trump administration persists in its current policy of punishing the other parties to the deal for adhering to it, it risks negating all of the deal’s benefits and driving Iran to start expanding its nuclear program once again.
Haley drops a reference to nuclear weapons in an answer about Iran knowing full well that she is misleading the public when she says this. Haley was answering a question about punishing allies that continue to do business with Iran, and the extremism of the administration’s position on this should not be overlooked. Even so, her false claim that Iran is building or will be building nuclear weapons is the most important part of the answer. Regrettably, Dickerson did not challenge the ambassador or press her on this point, and so she was able to get away with blatantly lying to the public about a very important matter of fact. This is one of the many failings of the Sunday political show format, which seems to function mainly as a platform for government officials to deliver their talking points without having to justify anything they say.
Haley’s lie did not go unnoticed by people who know the subject well. Cheryl Rofer rejected Haley’s claim:
The IAEA has found that Iran is NOT building nuclear weapons. This is agitprop on the level of the claims of Iraq’s WMD. https://t.co/0aL8lz2xoM
— Cheryl Rofer (@CherylRofer) September 23, 2018
Iran expert and TAC contributor Barbara Slavin noticed the same thing:
distressed that @johndickerson did not challenge @nikkihaley when she said #Iran had continued its ‘nuclear weapons program.’ She must have confused with #NorthKorea since #Iran has no nuclear weapons — and won’t if @theIrandeal survives despite US exit. @FaceTheNation
— Barbara Slavin (@barbaraslavin1) September 23, 2018
Lying about Iran and its nuclear program is second nature to members of this administration, but it is still important to call out such blatant disinformation when U.S. officials say these things. It is easy to become numb to the endless stream of nonsense that comes from administration officials, but we have to keep challenging their falsehoods and misrepresentations. The president and Ambassador Haley are gearing up to promote the administration’s propaganda at the U.N. later this week, and we should expect more fabrications and attempts to deceive the public and the world.