CLAIM: The nuclear deal with Iran was “working” before President Donald Trump withdrew from it in May 2018.
VERDICT: False. The deal allowed Iran to become a nuclear power on expiration, and Iran never ended nuclear research.
Former Vice President Joe Biden said at the Democrat debate Tuesday night that he would return to the Iran deal, and claimed that President Donald Trump had precipitated the current confrontation with Iran by leaving the agreement.
I was part of that deal to get the nuclear agreement with Iran, bringing together the rest of the world, including some of the folks who aren’t friendly to us — and it was working. It was working, it [Iran] was being held tightly. There was no movement on the part of the Iranian government to get close to a nuclear weapon. And look what’s happened. He went ahead and it was predictable from the day he pulled out of the agreement, Trump, what exactly would happen. We’re now isolated. We’re in a situation where our allies in Europe are making a comparison between the United States and Iran, saying both ought to stand down, making a moral equivalence. We have lost our standing in the region. We have lost the support of our allies. The next president has to be able to pull those folks back together, re-establish our alliances, and insist that Iran go back into the agreement, which I believe with the pressure applied as we put on before, we can get done.
Almost every part of that statement is false, except for the part about Biden taking credit for supporting the Iran deal.
“It was working.” Under the lenient terms of the deal, Iran was able to resume its efforts to become a nuclear power after several years. And those efforts never ceased. As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed dramatically in April 2018, citing a trove of Iranian nuclear files seized by Israeli intelligence, the regime continued its efforts to develop a nuclear weapon. Moreover, the deal did not stop Iran from developing nuclear-capable ballistic missiles, or spreading terror. Iran also used billions of dollars in restored assets, sanctions relief, and ransom payments ancillary to the deal to fund its aggressive regional agenda, including not only supporting terrorism but also backing the genocidal Syrian dictatorship.
“We’re now isolated.” Not only is the U.S. back in step with Israel and the Sunni Arab world — which opposed the Obama administration’s appeasement of Iran — but Europe also backs President Trump’s current efforts. Earlier Tuesday, Britain, France, and Germany formally invoked a provision of the Iran deal that would allow United Nations sanctions to be re-imposed. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson even called Tuesday for a “Trump deal” to replace the defunct Iran deal.
“Go back into the agreement.” The agreement is dead. Moreover, U.S. sanctions are working to isolate and weaken the regime. As the New York Times itself reported on Monday, Iran’s economy is shrinking at an annual rate of nearly 10%, its inflation hovers around 40%, and the regime is reluctant to confront the U.S. military for fear of triggering an internal upheaval. The Obama administration repeatedly opposed sanctions on Iran; the current pressure is actually working.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.