Obama’s Master of Deceit on the Iran Nuke Deal

From aspiring novelist to chief spinner of the president's lies.

Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes confirmed what FrontPage Magazine has been saying all along. President Obama and senior members of his administration sold his nuclear deal with Iran, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), with a pack of lies. 

Rhodes was an aspiring fiction writer, who fulfilled his aspirations for make-believe as a senior member of the Obama administration.  In a profile of Rhodes, written by New York Times reporter David Samuels and appearing in last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, Samuels recounted Rhodes’ tall tales concerning how the negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program came about. The article’s title, by the way, is “The Aspiring Novelist Who Became Obama’s Foreign-Policy Guru.”

The Obama administration, led by Rhodes, spun the tale that it had to take advantage of the opportunity suddenly created for commencing negotiations with Iran when Hassan Rouhani, a so-called “moderate,” was elected as Iran’s president. According to Rhodes’ concocted narrative of the negotiations, the administration determined that the time had finally arrived, with Rouhani having replaced hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to enter into serious negotiations. This narrative of when and how the negotiations began, David Samuels wrote, “was largely manufactured for the purpose for selling the deal.”  

The Obama administration wanted to give the false impression that it was adeptly exploiting a schism between the so-called “moderate” faction in Iran that had taken over the presidency and the hardliners whom had taken a beating in the presidential election. They painted Rouhani as a “moderate” leader with real power, whom could serve as an effective counterweight to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and the hardliners surrounding him.

As Leon Panetta, Obama’s former CIA chief and Secretary of Defense, explained to the New York Times reporter, the intelligence agency did not consider there to be a divide between so-called “moderates” and hardliners in any meaningful sense. “There was not much question that the Quds Force and the supreme leader ran that country with a strong arm,” Panetta was quoted as saying. 

In truth, Obama was so intent on reaching a deal with Iran at any price that senior members of his administration had started serious discussions with Iranian hardliners a year before Rouhani’s election. “Obama’s closest advisers always understood him to be eager to do a deal with Iran as far back as 2012, and even since the beginning of his presidency,” David Samuels concluded after speaking with key members of the administration including Rhodes, whom were part of Obama’s inner circle. 

Indeed, three months before Rouhani’s election, Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns and Jake Sullivan, a close aide to then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, worked out the details of an “interim” agreement with their Iranian counterparts that became the basis of the JCPOA.

Once the JCPOA itself was finalized in July 2015, Rhodes managed its sale to Congress and the American people. He arranged for hand-picked “experts” to spoon feed clueless reporters, creating what Rhodes called “an echo chamber.”  Rhodes explained: “They were saying things that validated what we had given them to say. In the absence of rational discourse, we are going to discourse the [expletive] out of this.” Rhodes took distinct pleasure in driving the opponents of the deal “crazy.”

Rhodes showed utter contempt for anyone who disagreed with him and his boss on foreign policy. He referred to the foreign policy establishment as the “Blob.” He ridiculed reporters the administration talks to as mainly 27 year olds who “literally know nothing.” And what the Israeli government thought of the nuclear deal was of little consequence.

The Obama administration’s lies and doubletalk about the nuclear deal with Iran were not limited to the timing of the negotiations. It lied about the substance of the deal as well

For example, Rhodes said in April 2015, in response to a reporter’s question, that under the nuclear deal, “you will have anywhere, anytime, 247 access as it relates to the nuclear facilities that Iran has.” When the JCPOA turned out to contain serious qualifications on inspection rights, Rhodes shamelessly claimed, “We never sought in this negotiation the capacity for so-called anytime, anywhere where you can basically go anywhere in the country, look at whatever you wanted to do, that had nothing to do with the nuclear program….” 

Rhodes’ attempt to wiggle out of what he had previously promised was misleading. He left out the fact that the Obama administration ended up making major concessions on the inspection issue in the face of Iran’s demands, including that its military sites were off limits to outside inspectors unless Iran agreed otherwise. The JCPOA provides Iran with the means to delay any inspections of undeclared suspected sites requested by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Iran can raise objections to inspections of suspected sites, which would then have to be assessed by a commission that includes Iran itself as a member. 

Regarding the continuation of the prohibition on Iran’s development of missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, President Obama made a misleading statement on the day the deal was announced. He indicated that the restrictions related to ballistic missiles and conventional weapons would remain in place and be enforced:

Iran must complete key nuclear steps before it begins to receive new sanctions relief. And over the course of the next decade, Iran must abide by the deal before additional sanctions are lifted, including five years for restrictions related to arms, and eight years for restrictions related to ballistic missiles. All of this will be memorialized and endorsed in a new United Nations Security Council resolution. And if Iran violates the deal, all of these sanctions will snap back into place.

This too turned out to be a lie. The UN Security Council resolutions that had contained clear prohibitions on conventional arms and ballistic missiles along with sanctions for violations were swept away when the JCPOA was implemented. The Security Council resolution that replaced it was far weaker. 

Iran has conducted tests of ballistic missiles since the JCPOA was finalized. It has suffered no snap back of any sanctions, nor any other punitive action by the Security Council. 

The Obama administration has falsified both how the nuclear deal came about and what it contains. Ben Rhodes, the aspiring novelist, enthusiastically served as Obama’s master of deceit.