Demonstrating just how easily the Trump administration's mixture of utter incompetence and malicious determination to undermine diplomacy can bring the U.S. to the brink of yet another war in a matter of minutes, the White House issued a statement Monday night falsely declaring that Iran "has a robust, clandestine nuclear weapons program"—only to quickly change the statement from "has" to "had" in the face of journalistic reporting and strong backlash.
NEW: White House official blames a “clerical error” for wrong tense — a “mistake” that significantly changed the meaning, especially since the Trump administration, as recently as this month, acknowledged Iran was complying with terms of the nuclear deal.
— Peter Alexander (@PeterAlexander) May 1, 2018
A “clerical error” led the United States to accuse Iran of having an active and ongoing nuclear weapon program.
The details matter when you’re talking about nukes, people. https://t.co/0hhMReyuVz
— Martin “Lick The Bomb” Pfeiffer (@NuclearAnthro) May 1, 2018
While the White House was quick to explain away the potentially catastrophic mistake as a mere typo, Brian Beutler of Crooked Media argued this explanation "doesn't withstand scrutiny," given that the "original statement uses the word 'has' twice, strongly suggesting an intent to mislead the global public into believing Iran had covertly reactivated its nuclear weapons program in direct defiance of the agreement."
After admitting its "clerical error" to reporters, the White House quietly deleted its previous tweet publicizing the statement—which came shortly after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's "bizarre" speech claiming Iran is violating the terms of the nuclear deal—without "offering any apology to those who thought the U.S. was going to war with Iran."
"If Iran no longer has a robust clandestine program, the White House just admitted that the Iran deal is working."
—Trita Parsi, National Iranian American Council
Allusions to the lies leading up to America's 2003 invasion of Iraq have been made frequently over the past several days as President Donald Trump continues to ratchet up tensions with Iran, and observers found it impossible not to make the same comparison following the White House's "error" Monday night—particularly with the experienced intelligence manipulator John Bolton leading Trump's national security team.
Referring to Bolton, Margaret Hartmann of New York Magazine noted that "Trump just brought on a national security adviser who promoted false information to justify the war in Iraq, and has made it very clear that he's interested in bombing Iran."
Iran, for its part, has repeatedly stated in recent days that it has no plans to develop a nuclear weapon, even if U.S. President Donald Trump decides to walk away from the nuclear accord this month.
Even if it were true that Iran was actively attempting to develop a nuke prior to the implementation of the nuclear accord—as the U.S. and Israel are claiming—National Iranian American Council president Trita Parsi notes that the fact Iran is not currently pursuing nuclear weapons is evidence that the agreement has been effective.
"If Iran no longer has a robust clandestine program, the White House just admitted that the Iran deal is working," Parsi wrote on Twitter Monday night.