One of the most misleading lies about President Obama’s historic nuclear peace accord with the Islamic Republic of Iran is the patently false assertion that the deal makes it easier for Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon. This misrepresentation was a common talking point at the far-right wing, pro-war rally held in Washington D.C. this week, where Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) took turns competing for the most ignorant display of foreign policy knowledge.
Cruz, in a desperate attempt to maintain a shred of relevancy, has been pandering to evangelicals particularly hard. Iran’s hostile rhetoric towards the State of Israel is seized on as a major sticking point by Christian extremists, who interpret it in connection to the prophesies in the Book of Revelations. Cruz has predicted a nuclear apocalypse should this deal pass, having tweeted out recently that “the #IranDeal will facilitate and accelerate the nation of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons.”
Politifact took him up on that assertion, and found it to be false. Here’s how this deal works:
– Iran gives up 97% of its enriched uranium stock. Naturally found uranium is made up of 99.284% U-238, which is a uranium isotope, meaning in a nutshell that it has a different number of neutrons than regular uranium. Through a complicated process, the uranium is enriched to include a higher concentration of U-235, a different isotope, which is conducive to fission reactions. Uranium used for power plants has a U235 concentration of 3-4%. Nuclear weapons require 90% U235 concentration. Iran will limit their stockpile of enriched uranium to 300kg, at a 3.67% enrichment. They currently have over 15,000kg. In other words, they could have built a nuclear weapon six years ago– but they didn’t. We should keep in mind that Iran’s Supreme Leader, the Ayatollah Khamenini, has previously issued a religious ban, or fatwa, against the creation of nuclear weapons:
“In our opinion, in addition to nuclear weapons, other kinds of weapons of mass destruction, such as chemical and biological weapons, also represent a grave threat to humanity. The Iranian nation, which has itself been a victim of the use of chemical weapons, senses the danger of the production and storage of this kind of weapons and is ready to use all its resources to confront them. We consider the use of these weapons forbidden and the effort to save humanity from this great disaster the duty of all.” This statement, in consideration with Iranian nuclear capabilities over the past ten years, indicates that their nuclear program was used as a bargaining tool to lift the sanctions which have been crippling their economy and civil society, and they never truly had an attention to .
– Iran has agreed to not enrich over 3.67% for fifteen years.
– Iran will dismantle more than two thirds of their centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium. They have 19,000 at the moment; by the time the deal is done, they will have 6,104. The remainder will be kept for spare parts under the guidance of the International Atomic Energy Agency, which will be heavily monitoring the entire process.
Under the terms of the agreement, it would leave Iran with the ability to produce a nuclear weapon in twelve months, should they choose to break the agreement. This is a vast improvement over the 2-3 months that it would take at the present.
And let’s not forget that it was under the George Bush and Dick Cheney administration that let Iran develop their nuclear capacity so far. Iran had 163 centrifuges in 2003, and wanted to negotiate with America then. Cheney told them that he “doesn’t talk to evil” and refused, leaving them no choice. It is very clear now, judging from Cheney’s fervent opposition to this deal, that he specifically allowed Iran to develop their nuclear program so that the United States could use it as a pretext to go to war- like he did with Saddam’s Iraq. This nuclear deal is a huge step forward for peace in the Middle East, and we cannot understate just how important its passage was. Cruz and his fellow rabble-rousing pugilists are on the wrong side of the facts, of history, and the progress of human civilization.
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.