Politics Foreign Affairs Culture Fellows Program

Trump’s Big Lie About the Nuclear Deal

Trump's declaration that he won't "let" Iran have nuclear weapons is disturbing because it shows how divorced from reality he and his Iran policy are.

Trump made another bizarre statement about Iran and nuclear weapons in a new interview:

Speaking in an interview with Fox News the President told Steve Hilton he was reluctant to start a war but said he ‘couldn’t let Iran have nuclear weapons’.

‘I will not let Iran have nuclear weapons,’ he told Fox News host Steve Hilton.

‘I don’t want to fight. But you do have situations like Iran, you can’t let them have nuclear weapons – you just can’t let that happen,’ he said.

The president and other administration officials have been telling lies for months that Iran still seeks nuclear weapons, but they are rarely called out for it. Trump’s declaration that he won’t “let” Iran have nuclear weapons is disturbing because it shows how divorced from reality he and his Iran policy are. At one point in the interview, he asserts that “five years from now, they’re going to have an open path to making nuclear weapons.” There’s no truth to that. It is a total fabrication. If a path to nuclear weapons existed for Iran, the nuclear deal closed it off. The thing that Trump insists he will stop has already been stopped by the deal that he stupidly calls a “horror show.” Of course, his FoxNews interviewer doesn’t challenge him when he says demonstrably false things like this.

The JCPOA has made it so that Iran cannot build nuclear weapons, and as long as Iran keeps its commitments that will remain the case for decades to come at the very least. Once Iran ratifies the IAEA’s Additional Protocol in a few years, it will be practically impossible for Iran to build nuclear weapons, and by ratifying it their government will be proving that it has no intention of doing so. If the JCPOA survives this presidency, Iran becomes progressively less likely to have nuclear weapons as time goes on. There is also no evidence that their government wants to acquire these weapons.

Despite all of the administration’s efforts to sabotage it, the nuclear deal is still working. Quitting the JCPOA has weakened the very thing that ensures that Iran’s nuclear program remains peaceful. Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign and his occasional threats to destroy Iran give Iran incentives to leave the deal, but so far they have refrained from doing what the president and other Iran hawks obviously want them to do. The hawks hope to drive Iran out of the JCPOA so that they can use that as a pretext for attacking Iran. That is why they keep laying the groundwork for war by dishonestly claiming that Iran wants nuclear weapons when all of the evidence tells us that isn’t true.

If the president were genuinely interested in preventing Iran from having nuclear weapons, he would be a great defender of the deal that he has denounced and reneged on. The fact that he despises this agreement and has done everything he can to destroy it proves that his supposed concern about proliferation in Iran is just for show. It also shows that his “reluctance” to start a war doesn’t count for very much. The president is clearly leaving the door open to waging preventive war against Iran, and that is why he keeps repeating nonsense about Iran and nuclear weapons.