Media Call Out GOP Candidates' Misleading And False Debate Claims About Iran Nuclear Agreement

Republican presidential candidates Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee are being called out by the media for making false and misleading claims during CNN's Republican presidential debate about side deals, inspection criteria, and sanctions relief in the Iran nuclear deal.

Media Correct Huckabee And Cruz's Misleading And False Claims About Iran Nuclear Deal

PolitiFact: Huckabee Gave A “Misleading Impression”  Of Sanctions ReliefPolitiFact reported that former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee provided a “misleading impression” of the economic benefits Iran will reap from sanctions relief under the deal when he claimed the United States has “just now given over $100 billion” to Iran:

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said Iran is getting a sizeable award for the nuclear deal with the United States -- to the tune of $100 billion.

“We've just now given over $100 billion (to Iran),” Huckabee said. “The equivalent in U.S. terms is $5 trillion.”

That rates Half True.

Huckabee's $100 billion figure is one of the most commonly cited estimates of how much the Iranian economy will reap from sanctions relief under the Iran deal, though no one is fully certain of the amount. But he gives a misleading impression of the transaction by implying the United States is giving the money to Iran when it would just unfreeze the assets. [PolitiFact, 9/17/15]

CNN: UN International Atomic Energy Agency Will Seek Access To Every Military Site, Contrary To Cruz's Assertion That Inspections Would Be Limited And Conducted By Iranians. In a fact-check of the debate, CNN ruled Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-TX) claim about self-inspection “false,” noting that “Cruz's assertion falsely suggests that all nuclear inspections in Iran would be conducted by the Iranians,”  and added that “the assertion that military facilities are entirely off-limits is also false” :

The Additional Protocol, which Iran signed onto under the nuclear agreement, allows the International Atomic Energy Agency, a U.N. nuclear watchdog agency, to seek access to any site, including military sites.

[...]

The notion of self-inspections first arose when details of a draft of the so-called “side deal” between Iran and the IAEA were reported in the media.

They revealed that Iran would participate in monitoring and inspecting the Parchin military facility, which the West suspects that Iran has used for military nuclear work.

U.S. officials say that while Iranians would have a role in inspecting the site, inspectors from other countries will participate as well and the IAEA would be monitoring the process throughout. The leader of the IAEA said the suggestion of self-inspections “misrepresent the way in which we will undertake this important verification work.”

But neither the United States nor the IAEA have made the agreement public, citing precedent in keeping IAEA pacts confidential.

Cruz's assertion falsely suggests that all nuclear inspections in Iran would be conducted by the Iranians, but without access to the full document, it's unclear exactly how inspections at Parchin will proceed. And the assertion that military facilities are entirely off-limits is also false.

VERDICT: False in regard to self-inspections. [CNN.com, 9/17/15]

Washington Post: Experts Have Said Iranian Sample Collection At Undeclared Sites “Would Be Overseen By IAEA Inspectors.”  The Washington Post debunked Cruz's  “two dubious claims”  on the Iran nuclear deal, explaining that declared nuclear sites will be under “continuous monitoring”  by the IAEA, and while “a disputed media report suggested Iran would take samples itself ... experts have said it would be overseen by IAEA inspectors” :

Cruz repeats two dubious claims about the international nuclear agreement on Iran.

Iran's declared nuclear sites, such as the Natanz uranium enrichment facility, will be under continuous monitoring by the International Atomic Energy Agency - and the IAEA would have immediate access. The agreement even allows IAEA monitoring of Iran's centrifuge production and storage facilities, the procurement chain, and mining and milling of uranium -- verification measures that many experts say exceed previous negotiated nuclear deals.

At undeclared sites, the IAEA can demand instant access -- but Iran could refuse. So the agreement sets up a process to resolve the standoff. But 24 days is the maximum, not the minimum, as Cruz claims.

As for self-inspections, Cruz is referring a side agreement between Iran and the IAEA about the collection of samples at a military site, which is not subject to regular nuclear safeguard procedures. A disputed media report suggested Iran would take the samples itself, but other experts have said it would be overseen by IAEA inspectors.[The Washington Post9/17/15]

Washington PostCruz Claims Deal Gives Iran 24 Days To Prepare For Inspections, But This Is The Maximum Time Allotted For Dispute Resolution In The Event Of A Standoff. The Washington Post noted that Cruz also misrepresented a dispute resolution process that can last a maximum of 24 days in the event that Iran denies the IAEA instant access to undeclared nuclear sites -- “24 days is the maximum, not the minimum, as Cruz claims” :

At undeclared sites, the IAEA can demand instant access -- but Iran could refuse. So the agreement sets up a process to resolve the stand-off. But 24 days is the maximum, not the minimum, as Cruz claims.

Ironically, this provision was added to remove a loophole in an enhanced IAEA inspections regime known as the Additional Protocol, which Iran has agreed to accept. The Additional Protocol requires access to suspect sites in 24 hours, but it does not have immediate consequences for a nation that refuses to permit access. The deal's 24-day provision is intended to close that loophole, though critics say that if it is stretched to the maximum, Iran might be able to eliminate evidence. [The Washington Post9/17/15]

PoliticoCruz Incorrectly Claimed The Obama Administration Is Violating The Law By Withholding Details Of IAEA-Iran AgreementPolitico's Daniel Samuelsohn explained that Cruz was “taking some liberties in his interpretation of what Congress can expect to get a look at” when he claimed that “President Obama is violating federal law by not handing over the side deals and we ought to see it.” As Politico noted, “Lawmakers can expect to see the details of the core agreement that limits Iran's nuclear program in exchange for ending economic sanctions -- but what they can't see hardly means that the Obama White House is doing anything illegal” :

Cruz is taking some liberties in his interpretation of what Congress can expect to get a look at as it reviews the nuclear deal that the U.S. and five other world powers reached with Iran. Lawmakers can expect to see the details of the core agreement that limits Iran's nuclear program in exchange for ending economic sanctions -- but what they can't see hardly means that the Obama White House is doing anything illegal.

Under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act that became law in May, Obama was required within five days of reaching a final deal to supply Congress “the text of the agreement and all related materials and annexes.” But the White House, in a Q&A released in July after the P5+1 agreement was reached, knocks down the notion that there were any “secret side deals” that merited release to lawmakers. There are indeed two attachments -- brokered between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency, including one addressing the sensitive Parchin military site -- but the White House explained that those are “not public documents.”

“The administration was not provided them by the IAEA and therefore has not shared them with the Congress,” the White House said. It noted that the IAEA has followed “standard practice” in keeping the agreements confidential, adding: “It has not distributed these sensitive documents, nor do we expect it to do so.” [Politico, accessed 9/17/15]