In an interview with Reuters published yesterday, President Obama launched a pre-emptive strike against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s planned speech before a session of Congress. I won’t attempt to fisk the whole thing, but a few things stuck out as patently false.

Now keep in mind the prime minister, when we signed up for this interim deal that would essentially freeze Iran’s program, roll back its highly enriched uranium – its 20 percent highly enriched uranium – and so reduce the possibility that Iran might breakout while we were engaged in these negotiations, when we first announced this interim a deal, Prime Minister Netanyahu made all sorts of claims. This was going to be a terrible deal. This was going to result in Iran getting 50 billion dollars worth of relief. Iran would not abide by the agreement. None of that has come true.

I’m not sure that Netanyahu made a claim of $50 billion in sanctions relief. I believe the number was closer to $20 billion and that the actual relief Iran got was closer to the Israeli estimate than the administration’s lowball estimate. But I don’t have the time right now to research this, but I’m skeptical about this claim.

What I do know is false is that as much as the President pretends that Iran abided by the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA), Iran violated it with impunity. The JPOA (.pdf) spelled out an obligation that Iran had to come clean with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) about its past nuclear research. Here’s the language:

A Joint Commission of E3/EU+3 and Iran will be established to monitor the implementation of the near-term measures and address issues that may arise, with the IAEA responsible for verification of nuclear-related measures. The Joint Commission will work with the IAEA to facilitate resolution of past and present issues of concern.

How do we know that 15+ months later Iran has not fulfilled this obligation? Because the IAEA reported the ongoing violation … yesterday morning!

Concerning safeguards implementation in Iran, the Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of nuclear material declared by Iran under its Safeguards Agreement. However, the Agency is not in a position to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.

The Agency continues to undertake monitoring and verification in relation to the nuclear-related measures set out in the Joint Plan of Action agreed between Iran and the E3+3 countries.

Iran has yet to provide explanations that enable the Agency to clarify two outstanding practical measures agreed in May 2014 in the third step of the Framework forCooperation. Iran also has still to propose new practical measures.

Pay attention to that first paragraph quoted above. The IAEA cannot confirm that Iran does not have an undeclared nuclear program. But that is precisely what Iran was obligated to account for and it hasn’t!

If all Iran had was a declared nuclear program, Obamas boasts that his deal will keep Iran from developing a nuclear bomb would have some credibility. The fact that Iran has an undeclared nuclear program of unknown dimension means that his boasts are empty, and not something that Netanyahu can trust if his nation’s survival is at stake.

Also under the JPOA Iran was not allowed to test any new model of centrifuges. But last November it was reported that Iran had fed uranium gas into a previously untested IR-5 centrifuge. True, when Iran was confronted it stopped feeding uranium into the IR-5 but that just means that Iran backed off when it was caught cheating, not that it didn’t cheat! (Likely Iran was testing to see what would happen if it cheated. I’m sure that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei noted with great satisfaction that cheating will bring no more than a rebuke.)

Iran contrary to Obama’s assertion did not abide by the JPOA.

(Apparently the president isn’t the only member of his administration who has a hard time assimilating the IAEA’s report.)

Really it wouldn’t have taken much to challenge the president on his claims – especially because the news was current – unfortunately his interviewer let him get away with the false assertion.

But if the best President Obama can do against Netanyahu is to use a patently false claim to push back, Netanyahu should be able to shape the narrative tomorrow.

I only wish that Obama was as determined to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon as he is to (vainly) undermine Netanyahu’s credibility.