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CIA chief John Brennan says criticism of Iran deal ‘wholly disingenuous’

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CIA director John Brennan gave a staunch defense of the framework nuclear deal with Iran, calling some criticism of the accord “disingenuous” while expressing surprise at Tehran’s concessions.

In his first public remarks since the outline agreement was announced last week, the spy agency chief said the deal would impose a litany of restrictions on Iran’s nuclear work that had once seemed impossible to secure.

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“I must tell you the individuals who say this deal provides a pathway for Iran to a bomb are being wholly disingenuous, in my view, if they know the facts, understand what’s required for a (nuclear) program,” Brennan told an audience at Harvard University.

The outline deal announced last week would see the United States and the European Union lift all nuclear-related sanctions on Iran in exchange for a 98-percent cut in Iran’s stocks of highly enriched uranium for 15 years.

The accord would mean “cutting off pathways not just to uranium enrichment but to plutonium enrichment” and include a “very intrusive inspection regime,” Brennan said.

“I certainly am pleasantly surprised that the Iranians have agreed to so much here.

“In terms of the inspections regime, the reduction as far as the centrifuges, the stockpile, what they’re doing with the Arak reactor — all of that I think is really quite surprising and quite good.”

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Citing Tehran’s “concessions,” including agreeing to a dramatic reduction of centrifuges, Brennan said: “Boy, nobody ever thought they would do that at the beginning.”

Some critics were less focused on Iran’s nuclear program and more on the effect of lifting sanctions, as they worry it will allow Tehran to “cause more trouble throughout the area,” Brennan said.

That was a legitimate concern, he said. But the framework deal itself offered a way of curtailing any attempt by Iran to build nuclear weapons and is “as solid as you can get,” he said.

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US and allied intelligence agencies would be closely monitoring how Iran implemented any deal and there was no expectation that Tehran would alter its stance in the region, he said.

– ‘Reasonable’ Rouhani –

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It was unclear if the pragmatic approach demonstrated by President Hassan Rouhani on the nuclear negotiations would “migrate to other areas of Iranian foreign policy,” he said.

“I think we’ll see. But I don’t think this is going to lead to a light switch when all of a sudden the Iranians are going to become passive, docile in the region, no.”

Brennan, a career intelligence officer who served as President Barack Obama’s counter-terrorism adviser before taking over at the spy agency, said Iran’s attitude on the issue had changed since Obama entered office six years ago mainly because sanctions had hit the country’s economy hard, he said.

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New leadership under Rouhani, who was a “more reasonable” figure, also provided an opening. Apparently recognizing the threat posed by the sanctions, the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, gave a green light to Rouhani to try to broker a deal, Brennan said.

If the talks failed, Khamenei could then blame Rouhani and his foreign minister for the result, he added.

The CIA chief also suggested obliquely that digital sabotage on Iran’s uranium enrichment work had played a role.

Asked by New York Times reporter David Sanger if the cyber attack was a factor, Brennan said: “I think their inability to progress certainly helped slow that program.”

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Sanger in 2012 broke the story of Stuxnet, a US-Israeli effort to undermine Iran’s nuclear program with a damaging computer worm.

Brennan made a joking reference to Sanger’s articles, saying: “I wouldn’t attribute your reporting to helping that frankly.”


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Coronavirus task force members furious Trump is trying to get them to listen to TVs Dr. Oz: ‘This isn’t celebrity showcase’

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According to a report from the Daily Beast, health officials working in conjunction with the White House task force dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic are furious with Donald Trump for suggesting that they seek input from Dr. Mehmet Oz who has been making frequent appearances on Fox News.

The report states that Oz has already been speaking with some White House officials, including Trump’s administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Seema Verma, and that has some officials worried they will be forced to spend precious time having to deal with the celebrity doctor when they could be working on stemming the coronavirus tide that is killing Americans.

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MSNBC’s Morning Joe rips his own network for airing ‘rambling illiterate’ Trump’s time-wasting press conference

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MSNBC's Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski unloaded on President Donald Trump for dragging his medical experts onstage to watch him push an unproven coronavirus treatment.

The "Morning Joe" co-hosts ripped the president for calling an unscheduled press briefing Sunday to promote hydroxychloroquine -- which White House officials and medical experts disagree over its effectiveness as a treatment for the deadly virus.

"This is when the idiots have been exposed for who they are in the time of America's greatest needs," Scarborough said. "Last night, the president attacked a governor, he pushed an unproven drug, and then he continued, saying that the buck doesn't stop here. I must ask, Mika, what did America get out of cable news networks running a two-hour rambling press conference, where he says the same exact things every time?"

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‘A really chilling moment’: Trump refuses to allow Dr. Fauci to answer question on dangers of hydroxychloroquine

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"This is unacceptable. Dr. Fauci, one of the world's top infectious disease scientists, was just censored live at a White House press conference."

During a press briefing Sunday night purportedly aimed at providing the U.S. public with crucial information amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump refused to allow the nation's top infectious disease expert to answer a reporter's question about the efficacy of an anti-malaria drug that the president has recklessly touted as a possible COVID-19 treatment despite warnings from medical professionals.

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