FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jamal Abdi
Iran and its nuclear program will undoubtedly feature prominently in tonight’s presidential debate on foreign policy. However, pervasive myths, distortions, and oversimplifications continue to distort the debate on Iran. To confront these myths, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), together with Just Foreign Policy, has launched Iranfact.org, a site devoted to fact-checking these myths and promoting an honest and accurate debate about Iran policy in the U.S.
In preparation for tonight’s debate, NIAC presents five of the biggest myths about Iran’s nuclear program, starting with a myth from the Vice Presidential debate:
Myth #1: Iran has fissile material for five nuclear weapons.
At the Vice Presidential debate, Congressman Paul Ryan said “When Barack Obama was elected, they had enough fissile material, nuclear material, to make one bomb. Now they have enough to make five.” However, Iran does not have any fissile nuclear material that could be used in a nuclear weapon. Iran has quantities of low and medium-enriched uranium, but does not possess weapons-grade uranium, which would be required to build a nuclear weapon.
Myth #2: The U.S. and Israel believe Iran is developing nuclear weapons.
The United States intelligence community says Iran has not made the decision to develop a nuclear weapon. Instead, the U.S. intelligence community is concerned that Iran is engaged in a strategy of “nuclear hedging” — developing the capabilities that would be necessary to build a nuclear weapon if such a political decision were made. According to multiple credible media reports, Israeli intelligence agencies agree with the U.S. intelligence community that Iran has not decided to develop nuclear weapons.
Myth #3: An Iranian nuclear weapon is imminent.
An Iranian nuclear weapon is not imminent. U.S. and Israeli intelligence assess that Iran is not actively building a bomb, and that it would take Iran at least two to three years to have a deliverable weapon.
Myth #4: Israel and the U.S. consider Iran irrational.
Top Israeli and U.S. officials agree Iran is a rational actor. General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently told CNN, “We are of the opinion that the Iranian regime is a rational actor.” Senior Israeli officials, such as Meir Dagan, the former chief of Israel’s Mossad, have made similarly unambiguous statements. “The regime in Iran is a very rational regime,” Dagan told CBS News in March.
Myth #5: Israel considers Iran an “existential threat.”
While many media outlets and politicians often state that Iran is an “existential threat” to Israel, many senior Israeli defense officials argue this simply isn’t true. Prominent Israeli defense and intelligence officials have stated that Iran poses some threat to Israel, but that it is not an “existential threat.”