Sen. Tim Kaine (D., Va.) claimed that the Iran nuclear deal is permanent and lasts forever during a heated back-and-forth Wednesday with the Trump administration’s special envoy for Iran, Brian Hook, despite all of the clauses in the agreement having a firm end date.
Kaine accused the Trump administration official of lying to lawmakers about the deal’s impermanence but backed down when confronted by Hook with the facts surrounding the deal, known by its acronym JCPOA.
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“You said something that you repeated twice that has been said to this committee before that I think is completely wrong: And that is that the JCPOA, the Iran deal, one of the reasons it is bad is because it expires,” Kaine said during the hearing. “To say to me, to our committee, to the American public, that the deal is bad because it expires is just wrong.”
Kaine went on to quote from the preamble of the JCPOA to bolster his case. That section, which is separate from the actual conditions of the deal, states that Iran will not seek to build nuclear weapons. Kaine said this is proof that the deal never expires.
Hook explained to Kaine that the preamble is not, in fact, part of the actual commitments undertaken by Iran under the deal, all of which have expiration dates.
“It is the case that the deal will expire, and I don’t think it is a material distinction to say that after all of the substance of the deal expires that the deal doesn’t expire because Iran makes a commitment to never get a nuclear weapon,” Hook said. “I think that’s a misreading and it’s a misleading account of the Iran nuclear deal.”
“Do you think I misquoted what I just read? Are you saying you think it’s a misreading?” Kaine responded.
“The provisions of the deal expire,” Hook again affirmed.
“That’s a provision of the deal. It’s in the preamble,” Kaine said.
Hook again explained to Kaine how the deal actually functions.
“It’s not a provision. It’s preambular. It’s a preambular paragraph, it’s not an operative paragraph,” Hook explained. “It’s a preambular paragraph. It’s hortatory.”
Kaine pressed on undeterred by the facts of the deal.
“If Iran has no intent to acquire nuclear weapons what are they doing with that atomic archive in the heart of Tehran that Israel had to liberate?” Hook asked Kaine, who was unable to answer the question.
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