he Obama administration has been campaigning on behalf of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran since it was announced last week—even as the exact details of the proposed deal are still unclear. What we do know is that the JCPOA will turn Iran into a nuclear threshold state. Even Obama says so. The deal pushes Iran's breakout time back to a year, Obama told NPR, but that's only for the first ten years. "In Year 13, 14, 15," Obama said, "they have advanced centrifuges that enrich uranium fairly rapidly, and at that point, the breakout times would have shrunk almost down to zero."
In other words, the deal guarantees that a future White House is going to have to deal with an Iranian bomb within at least 15 years.
This afternoon the administration tried to do some damage control, with spokesperson Marie Harf "clarifying" Obama's comments in a press briefing. What the president meant, said Harf (scroll to 9:25), is that the breakout time will be zero after 13 years if there is not an agreement. As one reporter deftly noted, Harf's attempt at a clarification seemed to contradict the very point of striking a deal: If the breakout time is 2-3 months now, how is it that without a deal it will take Iran not 2-3 months, but 13 years to get to zero breakout time?
Mark Dubowitz, executive director at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, and Annie Fixler, a policy analyst at FDD, cut right to the heart of the matter when they note that even if the deal does push the breakout time back to a year, that may not help stop a state sponsor of terror from acquiring a nuclear weapon. "We don't have the best track record stopping countries from developing nukes (we didn't stop the Soviet Union, China, Israel, India, Pakistan, North Korea, and we seriously underestimated Iraq's nuclear weapons development in 1990 and then went to war when we seriously overestimated it in 2003); and our current abilities, accordign to Obama's own Defense Department, are "either inadequate, or more often, do not exist."
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