JERUSALEM – In an address broadcast live to Israel Sunday, President Obama falsely claimed the West’s nuclear deal with Tehran takes Iran’s uranium enrichment down to zero from its current 20 percent.
Obama made the false claim twice even though the text of the deal caps Iran’s uranium enrichment at 5 percent, a figure that could constantly leave the country two months away from the technical ability to build a nuke.
Obama was hosted for a forty-minute question-and-answer session at the annual Saban Forum at the Brookings Institute in Washington, D.C. The session was broadcast live on Israel’s Channel 2, the country’s largest television station.
Regarding the nuclear deal, Obama stated: “We have not only made sure that in Fordor and Natanz that they have to stop adding additional centrifuges, we’ve also said that they’ve got to roll back their 20 percent advanced enrichment. So we’re … ”
Host Chaim Saban interrupted and asked, “To how much?”
Saban was asking about the percentage Iran would be required to roll back its enrichment.
“Down to zero,” Obama stated. “So you remember when Prime Minister Netanyahu made his presentation before the United Nations last year?”
“The cartoon with the red line?” asked Saban.
Continued Obama: “The picture of a bomb – he was referring to 20 percent enrichment, which the concern was if you get too much of that, you now have sufficient capacity to go ahead and create a nuclear weapon. We’re taking that down to zero.”
In actuality, the six-month renewable interim deal requires Iran to cap its uranium enrichment at 5 percent. Iranian diplomats have repeatedly stated they will not give up the right to enrich uranium in any final deal.
Later on in his speech, Obama contradicted himself and conceded Iran would likely retain an enrichment capability in a final deal.
He said: “We can envision an end state that gives us an assurance that even if they have some modest enrichment capability, it is so constrained and the inspections are so intrusive that they, as a practical matter, do not have breakout capacity.
“Theoretically they might still have some [breakout capacity]. But frankly, theoretically, they will always have some because, as I said, the technology here is available to any good physics student.”
In an e-mail to WND, Olli Heinonen, the former International Atomic Energy Agency inspector, explained how the 5 percent enrichment leaves Tehran perpetually just two months away from enriching enough uranium to assemble one nuclear weapon.
“Let us look at the current the facts on the ground. With Iran’s inventory of 20 percent enriched uranium, it would take about two weeks using 6000 IR-1 centrifuges, operating in tandem cascades, to produce enough weapons grade material for one nuclear device. If Iran uses three to five percent enriched uranium as feed material at all its currently installed 18,000 IR-1 centrifuges at Natanz and Fordow, the same result would be achieved in two months.
“The current agreement retains Iran’s fleet of more than 18000 IR-1 centrifuges. Operational restrictions are placed that allow 10,000 centrifuges to continue to enrich at up to 5 percent at any given point of time. These measures, together with a cessation of 20 percent enriched uranium production and conversion of the 20 percent-level stockpiles to oxides, extend the current breakout times to about two months.”
Meanwhile, in the session Sunday, Obama claimed the deal only opens the Iranian economy to a maximum of $7 billion in sanctions relief.
Stated Obama: “What we’ve done is we’ve turned the spigot slightly and we’ve said, here’s maximum $7 billion out of the over $100 billion of revenue of theirs that is frozen as a consequence of our sanctions, to give us the time and the space to test whether they can move in a direction, a comprehensive, permanent agreement that would give us all assurances that they’re not producing nuclear weapons.”
However, WND reported under the interim deal Tehran’s economy could be flooded with untold billions in sanctions relief and other gains, far more than the widely reported amount of $6 to $7 billion.
A careful reading of the agreement, posted on the EU’s website, finds numerous open-ended statements about sanctions relief.
If Iran keeps its side of the bargain, the deal allows an increase in European Union “authorisation thresholds for transactions for non-sanctioned trade to an agreed amount.” No amount for the thresholds are provided in the text of the deal.
The agreement states the U.S. and EU will “enable the repatriation of an agreed amount of revenue held abroad.” No specific amount is delineated in the deal.
In one clause that could potentially free untold billions, the deal establishes a “financial channel to facilitate humanitarian trade for Iran’s domestic needs using Iranian oil revenues held abroad.” No cap is provided for the amount of revenue that could be made available.
An open-ended footnote states the “humanitarian” trade financial channel “would involve specified foreign banks and non-designated Iranian banks to be defined when establishing the channel.”
More sanctions relief spelled out in the text of the deal includes a Western agreement to:
- Pause efforts to further reduce Iran’s crude oil sales, enabling Iran’s current customers to purchase their current average amounts of crude oil. For such oil sales, it suspends the EU and U.S. sanctions on associated insurance and transportation services.
- Suspend U.S. and EU sanctions on Iran’s petrochemical exports, as well as sanctions on associated services, gold and precious metals.
- Suspend U.S. sanctions on Iran’s auto industry, as well as sanctions on associated services.
- License the supply and installation in Iran of spare parts for safety of flight for Iranian civil aviation and associated services.
- License safety related inspections and repairs in Iran as well as associated services.
- Not impose new nuclear-related U.N. Security Council sanctions.
- Not impose new EU nuclear-related sanctions.
- In the case of the U.S. administration, acting consistently with the respective roles of the president and the Congress, refrain from imposing new nuclear-related sanctions.