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What Obama and Romney Didn't Say At the Debate: 9 Things You Should Know About Iran's Nuclear Program

The foreign policy debate saw the presidential candidates gloating about how much Iranians are suffering because of US-imposed sanctions, but there was no mention that Iran does not have a nuclear bomb.

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On October 12, Politico  posted a copy of the predetermined topics of discussion for the third and final presidential debate in Boca Raton, Florida, the focus of which will be foreign policy. The debate took place on Tuesday, October 23.

One of the topics was, naturally, "Red Lines - Israel and Iran."

You'd be forgiven for thinking this might mean that the two candidates discussed what sort of limitations - identified by non-negotiable trigger points and definable events - the United States would set on Israeli war crimes, colonization, human rights violations and warmongering, but that would just mean you're a logical, thinking person who doesn't pay attention to the world in which we actually live.

No, instead, two grown men vying to be the most powerful person on the planet, tripped all over themselves to prostrate themselves at the altar of Israel fear-mongering, gloating about how much Iranians are suffering because of US-imposed sanctions, cyberattacks, sidewalk executions, covert operations, industrial sabotage, economic hardship and hyperinflation and threatening to launch an unprovoked military attack if Iran doesn't do as its told by the United States.  These actions are intended, we will hear from President Obama, to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon; or, in Romney's case, to prevent Iran from achieving nuclear weapons capability - that is, the point at which Iran will have the technical, technological and scientific ability to theoretically begin the process of assembling a single atomic bomb, if the leader of the country were to ever make that decision, which at this point everyone agrees he hasn't done and probably won't ever do.

We heard Romney clam that "Iran is now four years closer to a nuclear weapon" and watched Obama insist that "all options are on the table" when it comes to confronting Iran over its national rights.  We heard that Iran's nuclear program poses a great - if not the greatest - threat to not only Israel and its neighbors in the region, but to Europe, the United States and the entire world.

So, even though the show is over, it might be best to keep some things in mind:

1. Iran has no nuclear weapons program.

United States intelligence community and its  allies have long assessed that Iran is not and never has been in possession of nuclear weapons, is not building nuclear weapons, and its leadership has not made any decision to build nuclear weapons.  Iranian officials have  consistently maintained they will never pursue such weapons on religious, strategic, political, moral and legal grounds.

U.S. Defense Secretary  Leon Panetta, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Brigadier General  Martin Dempsey, Director of National Intelligence  James Clapper, Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency  Ronald Burgess, President  Barack Obama, his National Security Council, and Vice President  Joe Biden have all agreed  Iran isn't actively building nuclear weapons.

Israeli Defense Minister  Ehud Barak, IDF Chief of Staff  Benny Gantz, and Military Intelligence Director  Aviv Kochavi have also said the  same thing.

Furthermore, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)  continually confirms - that Iran has  no active nuclear weapons program and stated it has "no concrete proof that Iran has or has ever had a nuclear weapons program." (emphasis added)

2. Iran has never violated its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Iran is a  signatory, and charter member, to the  Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty which affirms (not grants, merely acknowledges) the "inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination and in conformity with articles I and II of this Treaty."

Under the terms of the treaty, non-nuclear weapons states such as Iran are fully entitled to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes and must have a safeguards agreement in place with the autonomous IAEA, the "exclusive purpose" of which is the "verification of the fulfillment of its obligations assumed under this Treaty with a view to preventing diversion of nuclear energy from peaceful uses to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices."

Iran has never been found to have breached its NPT  obligations as such a  violation could only occur if Iran began "to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons."

With regard to its safeguards agreement with the IAEA, Iran - while in the  past had been found in non-compliance for its "failure to report" otherwise totally legal activities due to the deliberate policy of obstructionism of the United States - has never been found to have diverted any nuclear material to weaponization.  

"Claims of an imminent Iranian nuclear bomb are without foundation," IAEA spokesman Georges Delcoigne  stated on May 9, 1984.  In 1991, then-IAEA Director-General Hans Blix  explained that Iran's efforts to acquire nuclear technology was "no cause for concern."

Twelve years later, in November 2003, the IAEA  affirmed that "to date, there is no evidence that the previously undeclared nuclear material and activities referred to above were related to a nuclear weapons programme." And the following year, after extensive inspections of Iran's nuclear facilities were conducted under the auspices of the IAEA's intrusive Additional Protocol (implemented  voluntarily by Iran for two years) the IAEA again  concluded that "all the declared nuclear material in Iran has been accounted for, and therefore such material is not diverted to prohibited activities."

In 2007, then-IAEA Director-General Mohammad ElBaradei  confirmed, "I have not received any information that there is a concrete active nuclear weapons program going on right now," adding, "Have we seen Iran having the nuclear material that can readily be used into a weapon? No. Have we seen an active weapons program? No." 

After agreeing on a " Work Plan" to "clarify the outstanding issues" between Iran and the IAEA, by February 2008, ElBaradei was able to  report, "We have managed to clarify all the remaining outstanding issues, including the most important issue, which is the scope and nature of Iran's enrichment programme" and the IAEA  continued "to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran."

"As long as we are monitoring their facilities, they cannot develop nuclear weapons," ElBaradei  said. "And they still do not have the ingredients to make a bomb overnight."

In September 2009, ElBaradei  told the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists that "the idea that we'll wake up tomorrow and Iran will have a nuclear weapon is an idea that isn't supported by the facts as we have seen them so far," continuing, "Nobody is sitting in Iran today developing nuclear weapons. Tehran doesn't have an ongoing nuclear weapons program," adding that "the threat has been hyped."

The following month, ElBaradei  stated:

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