Republicans sceptical of the Iran nuclear deal are widely pointing to what they call a contradiction from Ben Rhodes, a White House deputy national security adviser, to make their case that the agreement is flawed.
On Tuesday, Rhodes discussed the deal’s terms for the inspections of Iranian facilities related to the country’s nuclear program.
“We never sought in this negotiation the capacity for so-called ‘anytime, anywhere,’ where you could basically go anywhere in the country,” Rhodes said in a CNN interview on Tuesday.
Under the final deal, the inspection rules differ between specifically nuclear facilities, like uranium enrichment sites, and other sensitive facilities that are not primarily nuclear in purpose, such as military installations. According to CBS, “a total of 24 days could elapse between the time inspectors first request access to a suspicious site and the time they are allowed entry.” Iran agreed to this and various other limits on its program in exchange for the rollback of economic sanctions.
The problem is that Rhodes previously used the phrase “anytime, anywhere” multiple times to describe the White House’s negotiating objectives with Iran. Mediaite flagged two such instances on Wednesday.
“Under this deal, you will have anywhere, any time 24/7 access as it relates to the nuclear facilities that Iran has,” Rhodes said in an April CNN interview, for example, according to the TV network’s transcript.
A number of right-leaning news outlets — including The Weekly Standard, Washington Free Beacon, Twitchy, The Right Scoop, and others — jumped on what they described as a clear reversal on the part of the White House. Fox News host Sean Hannity played a clip of Rhodes’ April comments to preview his Tuesday night interview with Vice President Dick Cheney.
“Here’s what’s so bad about the deal. ‘Anytime, anywhere’ — apparently they have to give 24 days notice. Wouldn’t that allow the Iranians enough time to adapt and hide whatever they’re really doing at these facilities?” Hannity asked.
“It certainly is,” Cheney said.
At a Wednesday press conference, presidential candidate and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) attributed the “anytime, anywhere” claim to President Barack Obama and then compared it to a famous Obama assertion about the Affordable Care Act: “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.” PolitiFact rated that statement its 2013 “Lie of the Year.”
“That sounds pretty much like, ‘If you like your doctor, you can keep him. And if you like your health insurance plan, you can keep it,'” Christie said. “That was the big lie of the first term. The big lie of the second term was ‘anytime, anywhere.'”
For his part, Rhodes insisted on Twitter that there’s no contradiction. He suggested he was previously addressing “key nuclear facilities” instead of all facilities of interest:
With respect to key nuclear facilities there WILL be 24/7 access / continuous monitoring. Exactly what we said after Lausanne
— Ben Rhodes (@rhodes44) July 15, 2015
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