Iran nuclear deal back in the news

Claims by three Wisconsin Republicans (from left) -- U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan -- are relevant again, as the Iran nuclear deal is in the news.  (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
Claims by three Wisconsin Republicans (from left) -- U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan -- are relevant again, as the Iran nuclear deal is in the news. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
President Donald Trump is going after the deal, which was done under President Barack Obama. (Evan Vucci/Associated Press)
President Donald Trump is going after the deal, which was done under President Barack Obama. (Evan Vucci/Associated Press)

Is the United States, as part of a landmark nuclear deal with Iran, subsidizing Iran’s nuclear program?

Did the administration of President Barack Obama admit that money from the agreement "would go directly to terrorism"?

Was the deal done by Hillary Clinton and does it line the pockets of Iran "with your money"?

The questions, which we addressed in fact checks in 2016, are relevant again as the deal is back in the news.

The news, the fact checks

In 2015, the United States and other world powers reached a nuclear agreement with Iran. The deal, pushed by Obama, makes it harder for Iran to make a nuclear bomb. In exchange, Iran could reclaim some $100 billion or more of its assets that had been frozen in foreign banks.

On Oct. 13, 2017, President Donald Trump unveiled a sweeping and aggressive new policy toward Iran, saying he would not re-certify the nuclear deal and calling for a variety of new sanctions against the government in Tehran.

His remarks stirred immediate opposition from some of the United States' major allies, as the governments of France, Germany and United Kingdom all said they still back the nuclear agreement.

Now to the three fact checks.

The decision for the United States to buy heavy water from Iran "will directly subsidize Iran’s nuclear program."

Rating: Mostly False.

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., made the statement after an announcement by the Obama administration that it was buying "heavy water" from Iran as part of the nuclear deal.

There was an element of truth in Ryan’s claim about the $8.6 million transaction. Heavy water, which can be used to make a nuclear weapon, clearly is part of Iran’s nuclear program.

But the fair-market-value purchase, for a material that the U.S. will use in nuclear research, is not a true subsidy. And by reducing Iran’s heavy water stockpile, the purchase helps Iran comply with the nuclear agreement, which is aimed at making it harder for the country to develop a nuclear weapon.

Says Hillary Clinton's Iran nuclear deal "lined the pockets of the world's number one state sponsor of terrorism with your money."

Rating: Mostly False.

The statement was made during the presidential campaign by then-Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus, a Wisconsinite. After Trump defeated Clinton in the election, Priebus briefly served as Trump’s chief of staff.

The United States did (and still does) label Iran as the top state sponsor of terrorism.

But the deal was struck 2.5 years after Clinton left the Obama administration as secretary of state. And the vast majority of the tens of billions of dollars that Iran gets is not American money, but its own assets, which were frozen by the U.S. and other countries that imposed sanctions on Iran.

Says Barack Obama's administration has admitted that money from its Iran nuclear deal "would go directly to terrorism."

Rating: Half True.

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., made the statement during his successful campaign for re-election.

The claim went too far. Administration officials had said they expected some portion of money from the deal with Iran would end up with groups that are labeled as terrorists.