At least 28 times, from when he first ran for the White House in 2008 up through the present day, President Barack Obama said he would prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.
Now, after a tentative nuclear deal, Obama admitted in an interview with NPR News this week that Iran could be able to develop a nuclear weapon after 13 years with a much faster breakout time.
Under the framework announced last week, Iran would be kept at least one year away from a bomb for the first decade of the deal, Obama said as he sought to sell the deal to skeptics. Yet that constraint would stay in place only for 10 years, at which point some restrictions on Iran's nuclear activities would be eased.
"Essentially, we're purchasing for 13, 14, 15 years assurances that the breakout is at least a year," Obama said in an NPR News interview. "And then in years 13 and 14, it is possible that those breakout times would have been much shorter. But at that point we have much better ideas about what it is that their program involves."
Breakout time refers to how long it would take to build a bomb if Iran decided to pursue one full-bore — in other words, how long the rest of the world would have to stop it. U.S. intelligence officials estimate Iran's breakout time is currently two to three months.
Obama's language up until now often made it clear he would leave no options "off the table" to prevent Iran, the world's largest state sponsor of terrorism that has frequently made overt threats to Israel's existence, from gaining nuclear weapons.
Perhaps more attention should have been paid to a remark he made in his third 2012 presidential debate with Mitt Romney. There, his language altered slightly.
"But to the issue of Iran, as long as I'm president of the United States, Iran will not get a nuclear weapon," he said.
Indeed, it appears that issue will be another president's problem, long after Obama is out of office.
[H/T Jim Geraghty]
Published under: Barack Obama , Nuclear Iran