According to Samantha Vinograd, national security adviser to Barack Obama, “Iran is closer to a nuclear weapon today, let’s be clear on that, than when he came into office,” she declared. That disturbing possibility is rendered even more alarming by the repeated assurances from United Nations officials that the Islamic Republic remains in compliance with the 2015 nuclear accords. Indeed, Vinograd’s claim came only hours after Iran announced its intention to violate the JCPOA’s caps on uranium enrichment levels by the end of the month. If Iran is closer to a bomb today despite its adherence to the terms of the Iran nuclear deal, it’s only because the deal left Iran’s nuclear program in place.
Vinograd acknowledged that Iran uses its nuclear program as leverage to seek sanctions relief and is prepared to take aggressive action to force concessions from the West. But like so many of the Iran deal’s proponents, she appears to see this admission not as an indictment of Iran but of Donald Trump. According to this thinking, the Islamic theocracy is not the master of its own destiny. Trump alone is pulling the strings in the Middle East, and Iran is a mere pawn in his cruel game. Trump wants war with Iran, the JCPOA’s boosters suggest, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding.