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Pompeo Repeats the Big Lie About Iran

Pompeo made sure to get a lie about Iran into his interview with CBS yesterday:

We don’t seek conflict with them. We simply want them to stop terror attacks. We want them to stop building out their nuclear weapons program [bold mine-DL].

Iran doesn’t have a nuclear weapons program. There is nothing for them to “build out” because there is no weapons program to begin with. More to the point, Iran hasn’t done any nuclear weapons-related work in 16 years, and the pre-JCPOA U.S. intelligence estimates have said as much. Bolton has beenpromotingthe lie that Iran has a nuclear weapons program for months. Trump evidently buys into this lie as well because he is constantly talking about how Iran has to agree to never seek nuclear weapons (as they have already done on more than one occasion). Now Pompeo is using the same lie, and as usual no one calls him out for making things up.

Under the JCPOA, Iran obviously doesn’t have a nuclear weapons program or anything close to it, and that is because the deal made it practically impossible for Iran to develop such weapons. The JCPOA did exactly what it was designed to do, and that was to restrict Iran’s nuclear program and subject it to intrusive inspections so that the nuclear program would remain peaceful and that could be verified by the IAEA. So Pompeo tells another whopper when he said this:

All of the things that the JCPOA was aimed at resolving, it didn’t work. The deal was a bad deal. America was stuck with a deal that wasn’t going to deliver on behalf of the American people.

In fact, the deal resolved the one issue that it was supposed to resolve. It delivered everything that its proponents promised. Iran hawks know that, and that is why they despise it. It resolved the issue diplomatically, it eliminated one of their preferred talking points against Iran, and it took away the issue that they want to demagogue and use as an excuse for conflict. The only reason someone would continue to denounce such an agreement as a “bad deal” is if he doesn’t want any agreement with Iran under any circumstances.

When the Secretary of State tells another government that it has to stop doing something that it clearly isn’t doing, how are they supposed to interpret that? Do they simply conclude that U.S. officials are morons who don’t know anything, or do they think think that this fixation on a non-existent nuclear weapons program is a sign that the Trump administration is looking for a pretext for war? After the Iraq debacle, it would be natural to assume that the U.S. is seeking regime change and/or war and is just using bogus claims about WMD programs to pursue those goals. If not to gin up a phony case for war, why would the Trump administration consistently lie to the public by claiming that Iran has a nuclear weapons program when all of the evidence shows that there is no such thing?

All of this comes back to Pompeo’s complete lack of credibility. Like Trump and Bolton, Pompeo routinely makes things up, distorts evidence, and misrepresents facts. Nothing he says can be trusted, and that makes it extremely difficult for any other government to be reassured when he says that the U.S. doesn’t want war. His fabrications about Iran and the nuclear deal are some of his most common, and that makes him an unusually poor representative when the U.S. and Iran need to be overcoming mistrust and finding a way out of the current impasse created by the Trump administration’s bankrupt Iran policy.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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