The vaunted “echo chamber” that President Barack Obama’s aide Ben Rhodes created to sell the Iran deal was quiet on Monday, in the aftermath of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s revelations of new intelligence proving that Iran had lied to the world about its nuclear weapons program.
Netanyahu presented a trove of over 100,000 files, both paper and electronic, that he said Israel had obtained from a “vault” where Iran had stored an archive of its nuclear research. The files included diagrams of nuclear detonation devices, nuclear warhead designs, and plans for nuclear testing sites, among other incriminating information.
The intelligence haul, Netanyahu said, shows that Iran lied to the world when its leaders said it had never had a nuclear weapons program.
(In 2015, “moderate” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said: “Iran has never sought to build nuclear weapons.”)
Netanyahu also said that the files show that Iran also failed to come clean about its past nuclear research, as required by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — the “Iran deal” — in 2015.
Moreover, Netanyahu said, the files suggested strongly that Iran’s past nuclear weapons program was continuing under the guise of scientific research within the Iranian defense department, conducted by exactly the same people. And the files also show that Iran’s intent was to revive the nuclear weapons program at a later date, he said.
Supporters of the Iran deal were silent.
Former Secretary of State John Kerry, who said in 2015 that the U.S. had “absolute knowledge” about Iran’s past military uses of nuclear research, had nothing to say on his Twitter feed.
Former UN Ambassador Samantha Power, who urged Congress not to reject the Iran deal in 2015, was active on Twitter, but said nothing about the new revelations about Iran.
Former National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor — one of the co-founders of the “Obama bros.” podcast, Pod Save America, found time to call Trump an “idiot” on Twitter, but said nothing about the Iran news.
Pundit with a pundit pic.twitter.com/xTKHTSCuqv
— Pod Save America (@PodSaveAmerica) April 30, 2018
And Rhodes himself, who established the pro-Iran deal “echo chamber,” said nothing.
A few pro-Iran deal observers weighed in, mostly arguing that the Iran deal was working — and that it allowed for monitoring Iran’s nuclear activities (ignoring the fact that Iran has been able to keep international inspectors out of military sites).
The Rand Corporation’s Dalia Dassa Kaye minimized Netanyahu’s revelations: “Is this news? That’s why there was a major international agreement to curb Iranian nuclear development and most of the world believes it is working.”
Matt Duss, a foreign policy advisor to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), tweeted sarcastically: “Based on Netanyahu’s presentation, it seems like it would be a really great idea to have a multilateral agreement that restricts and monitors Iran’s nuclear program.”
CNN analyst John Kirby, a spokesman for the State Department under Obama, essentially ignored the news entirely and insisted that the alternative to the Iran deal would be worse:
The Iran Deal is working. Nothing Netanyahu said today disputes that.
Want to go after Iran’s missiles? Fine.
Want to counter Iran’s support for terrorism? Great.
But don’t give the mullahs an excuse to spin centrifuges again.
And pulling out of the deal does exactly that.
— John Kirby (@johnfkirby63) April 30, 2018
None of these defenses grappled with the fundamental weaknesses of the Iran deal — namely, its lack of full monitoring, its failure to control Iranian missile development, and the fact that its major provisions expire over time.
And none acknowledged the fundamental problem of Iran lying to the world about its nuclear weapons research — as the Obama administration defended Iran’s good intentions, insisting that it had “absolute knowledge” of past and present Iranian activities.