Covering prosperity, direction and security, the first presidential debate held at Hofstra University pitted the candidates against each other in what occasionally became a back-and-forth heated argument.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump derided the nuclear deal signed a year ago between Iran and world powers during Monday night’s presidential debate at Hofstra University in New York, while Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton defended the deal she helped form.
Trump criticized the Iran deal as “the worst ever signed,” while saying that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whom he met on Sunday, is “not a happy camper.”
The deal, he said, was “another beauty where you have a country that was ready to fall, I mean, they were doing so badly. They were choking on the sanctions. And now they’re going to be actually probably a major power at some point pretty soon, the way they’re going.”
He also criticized the administration’s subsequent delivery of over $1 billion to Iran in cash, in what appeared to be ransom payments for US citizens held by Iran.
Hillary Clinton, who backs the nuclear deal and was instrumental in its formation, defended the deal saying that Iran was “weeks away” from a bomb, and that the nuclear agreement had thwarted its development.
“When I became secretary of state, Iran was weeks away from having enough nuclear material to form a bomb. They had mastered the nuclear fuel cycle under the Bush administration. They had built covert facilities. They had stocked them with centrifuges that were whirling away. And we had sanctioned them. I voted for every sanction against Iran when I was in the Senate, but it wasn’t enough. So I spent a year-and-a-half putting together a coalition that included Russia and China to impose the toughest sanctions on Iran. And we did drive them to the negotiating table. And my successor, John Kerry, and President Obama got a deal that put a lid on Iran’s nuclear program without firing a single shot. That’s diplomacy. That’s coalition-building. That’s working with other nations,” she said, praising her experience as a skilled diplomat.
At the time, the Obama administration said that Iran had still a long time to go before it reached a crucial threshold.
As for her claim that the world gained access to Iran’s secret facilities, the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had visited Iran’s declared nuclear facilities like Natanz and Fordo long before the July 2015 agreement that eased economic sanctions on the country in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear program.
The agency’s inspectors had also visited previously the Parchin military base, where nuclear weapons testing was suspected to have taken place. When the agency sought answers on Parchin in September 2015, the Iranians were permitted to take their own soil samples.
As to Trump’s claim about the $150 billion, the deal allowed Iran to get access to its own money that was frozen in foreign bank accounts, estimated at about $100 billion. The US didn’t give Iran $150 billion.
While Trump conceded Clinton has experience, he said it was “bad experience.”
“Whether it’s the Iran deal that you’re so in love with, where we gave them $150 billion back, whether it’s the Iran deal, whether it’s anything you can — name — you almost can’t name a good deal. I agree. She’s got experience, but it’s bad experience. And this country can’t afford to have another four years of that kind of experience.”
By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News
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