On Sunday night, after ridiculing the numerous staffing scandals in what he called the “Sharknado of administrations,” John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight focused on the Iran nuclear deal.
President Trump has until May 12 to recertify the Iran nuclear deal, but it’s not looking likely, given how the president has repeatedly criticized it both publicly and via a dozen or so rage-tweets. “I’ve studied this issue in great detail—I would say, actually, greater by far than anybody else,” Trump’s said. “Believe me. Oh, believe me… and it’s a bad deal.”
Cue Oliver: “Donald Trump has never studied anything in great detail. If you asked him what color his wife’s eyes are, he’d say: 34D but firm.”
Trump has, as is his wont, made numerous false claims concerning the Iran deal, including that Iran can self-inspect its facilities sans oversight, and despite his protestations, has yet to propose any viable alternative to the deal.
For the uninitiated, the Iran nuclear deal was struck in 2015 between Iran and the United States, the United Kingdom, China, Russia, France, and Germany, and was championed by the Obama administration as its biggest foreign-policy success. In exchange for the lifting of crippling economic sanctions (allowing the oil-rich country to sell it on the open market), the six countries received a requirement for Iran not to enrich their uranium to weapons-grade for 15 years (that is, it can’t be enriched above 3.67 percent, significantly less than the 90 percent purity that is needed for weapons-grade); to reduce its number of operating nuclear centrifuges from 19,000 to 5,060 of the oldest ones; and to increase the time it would take to make a bomb from a few months to a year.
“That’s not all. The deal also had strict conditions for monitoring and verification to make sure that they were in compliance, and if they weren’t, we could snap those sanctions back. It was a pretty good deal,” argued Oliver.
He added: “The damage of [the deal falling apart] would be long-term and potentially irreversible. Set aside the fact that you would alienate a whole generation of younger Iranians who support this deal—just think about what this would do for America’s credibility. Why would North Korea consider signing a nuclear agreement with us if we just broke the agreement we signed only three years ago with Iran? And if this deal dies and Iran resumes its nuclear-weapons program, it could start a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.”
But a recertification is not looking good considering that Trump and two of his top foreign-policy advisers—CIA Director Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton—are major Iran hawks.
“Two of Trump’s top advisers are, like him, dead set against this deal, and they’re getting backup from Sean Hannity, whose show the president watches so much, advisers refer to him as the ‘shadow chief of staff,’” said Oliver. “Hannity hates this deal, too, so there is not really a way for us to get a moderating voice into this conversation short of buying time on Hannity’s show this week, and running an ad like this.”
Oliver then threw to the following pro-Iran nuclear deal ad—featuring his recurring character the Catheter Cowboy—that is scheduled to run during Hannity’s show in the D.C. area: