White House revises statement saying Iran ‘has’ secret nuclear weapons program

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The White House on Monday night revised a public statement that said Iran currently has a secret nuclear weapons program, an assertion that contradicts what international observers have concluded.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders released the initial statement on Monday evening, hours after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu laid out his case publicly for why President Trump should leave the Iran nuclear deal.

“These facts are consistent with what the United States has long known: Iran has a robust, clandestine nuclear weapons program that it has tried and failed to hide from the world and from its own people,” the statement from Sanders read.

Netanyahu earlier on Monday had delivered a presentation in which he argued that a trove of documents obtained by Israeli intelligence proved that Tehran had sought in the past to obtain a weapon with its nuclear program. He did not, however, say that Iran currently has a nuclear weapons program. 

A clandestine nuclear weapons program would be a clear violation of the terms stipulated in the Obama-era deal agreed to by the U.S., Iran, China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and Germany, which offered sanctions relief to Tehran if the country curbed its nuclear program.

That initial White House statement also contradicts the International Atomic Energy Agency and the deal’s international signatories, who have said that Iran is complying with the deal.

After the statement was sent out, the White House posted a slightly adjusted version to its website. The altered version changed the word “has” to “had,” so that the statement reads partly as follows: “Iran had a robust, clandestine nuclear weapons program that it has tried and failed to hide from the world and from its own people.”

According to NBC News, a White House official blamed a “clerical error” for the wrong tense.

{mosads}The Hill has asked the White House for clarification.

The statement comes as Trump prepares to make an announcement on whether the U.S. will pull out of the deal, which he has long criticized. Trump has threatened to essentially withdraw from the agreement unless the U.S.’s European allies agree to changes he believes will fix it.

Concerns have risen over the fate of the deal ever since Trump tapped John Bolton to be his new national security adviser and Mike Pompeo to be secretary of State. Both men are known as avid Iran hawks.

White House officials and French President Emmanuel Macron have hinted strongly that Trump will scrap the deal. 

“I’m not telling you what I’m doing, but a lot of people think they know,” Trump said on Monday, referring to his decision on the Iran deal.

“That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t negotiate a new agreement. We’ll see what happens, but I think if anything what’s happening today and what’s happened over the last little while and what we’ve learned has really shown that I’ve been 100 percent right.”

Tags Donald Trump Mike Pompeo

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