Netanyahu speech: Fact-checking 5 key claims – CNN
Washington (CNN)Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a sharp case against a deal in the works to limit Iran’s nuclear ambitions during a speech to Congress Tuesday, instead pushing for a tougher approach.
Here’s a look at five of the key claims he made.
CLAIM: “Iran not only defies inspectors, it plays a pretty good game of hide and cheat with them. … Right now, Iran could be hiding facilities that we don’t even know about.”
BOTTOM LINE: Iran has frustrated inspectors and concealed aspects of its nuclear program over the years, but the country is believed to be in compliance with its commitments now, International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Yukiya Amano told CNN in November.
Amano, though, said he can’t yet confirm that Iran’s enrichment program is peaceful in nature. He said, “We can verify that they are honoring the commitment that they have made, and we give the assurance every month, but the problem is that we cannot yet give the assurance that all nuclear activities in Iran is in peaceful in purpose. We cannot yet give the clean bill of health.”
CLAIM: “Iran’s Supreme Leader … says Iran plans to have 190,000 centrifuges, not 6,000 or even the 19,000 that Iran has today, but 10 times that amount — 190,000 centrifuges enriching uranium. With this massive capacity, Iran could make the fuel for an entire nuclear arsenal, and this is in a matter of weeks, once it makes that decision.”
BOTTOM LINE: Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made that statement in July. Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, clarified those comments the next day, saying the supreme leader had been addressing the country’s long-term needs and not its immediate plans.
CLAIM: Under the deal currently being negotiated, Netanyahu said, “not a single nuclear facility would be demolished … Iran’s breakout time would be very short — about a year by U.S. assessment, even shorter by Israel’s.”
BOTTOM LINE: The Institute for Science and International Security in February 2014 estimated that Iran’s ability to “break out” — to produce enough weapons-grade enriched uranium for a bomb using facilities it’s already declared — to stand at about two months. To ‘break out’ without being caught by the international community, Iran would have to enrich uranium at facilities it hasn’t disclosed to the IAEA, and that organization has said it can’t be sure that such facilities don’t exist. Differences over Iran’s breakout time are a key sticking point in the negotiations, with the United States and other world powers pushing for that period to be extended to at least one year by limiting the type and numbers of centrifuges Iran can use and the amount of enriched uranium it can keep.
CLAIM: Equating Iran with ISIS, Netanyahu said that “one calls itself the Islamic Republic. The other calls itself the Islamic State. Both want to impose a militant Islamic empire first on the region and then on the entire world.”
BOTTOM LINE: The leaders of the Iranian Revolution ushered in a view of universal rejection of the West, but in recent years it hasn’t clearly articulated the late Ayatollah Khomeini’s vision for clerical rule beyond Iran itself. For its part, ISIS, or the Islamic State, does not recognize traditional borders and seeks global expansion. For ISIS, recognition of national borders is ideological suicide.
CLAIM: “Backed by Iran, (President Bashar al-) Assad is slaughtering Syrians. Back by Iran, Shiite militias are rampaging through Iraq. Back by Iran, Houthis are seizing control of Yemen, threatening the strategic straits at the mouth of the Red Sea. Along with the Straits of Hormuz, that would give Iran a second choke point on the world’s oil supply.”
BOTTOM LINE: A United Nations panel reported in 2013 that Turkey had seized assault rifles, explosives, detonators, machine guns and mortar shells that Iran had sent to Syria. U.S. officials have said there is strong evidence that Shiite militias are using Iranian weapons to attack U.S. troops in Iraq. Yemeni officials have frequently accused Iran of providing financial support and weapons to the Houthis in an effort to control Yemen’s Red Sea coast, on one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.