President Donald Trump has a new theory regarding shady dealings by Barack Obama and his administration. His latest conspiracy theory is regarding the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), more commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal, which he has long opposed and cited as the worst deal ever. Trump took to Twitter to float the theory that former President Obama had increased the number of green cards and naturalizations granted to Iranians prior to leaving office as part of the Iran nuclear deal.
Just out that the Obama Administration granted citizenship, during the terrible Iran Deal negotiation, to 2,500 Iranians - including to government officials. How big (and bad) is that?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 3, 2018
The idea that Obama granted 2,500 Iranians U.S. citizenship traces back to hard-line Iranian cleric and head of the Nuclear Committee of the National Security Commission of the National Assembly, Mojtaba Zonnour. Fars News Agency, the “semi-official” news agency of the Government of Iran, reported that Zonnour stated the following.
“The MP said that when Mr Obama decided to give the gentlemen a breakthrough during the discussion, he gave 2,500 citizens of Iranians, and some men and women competed with their children to be among the 2,500 people. Today, if these people are fired from the United States, it will be clear who is struggling and selling national interests to US.”
What Zonnour was saying is that Obama offered the 2,500 citizenships to Iran as an enticement to close the JCPOA deal. In doing so, it created a competition among some officials to secure those for their children, and that if it is discovered who did this, they have sold out national interests for self-gain.
Fox News later latched onto the story, reporting it on July 2, in which they neither confirmed nor denied any allegations made by Zonnour regarding the details of the JCPOA, or the children of elite government officials working and living in the U.S., which he claims could be as many as 60 people. From there, it would appear that when the president saw the story, he tweeted about it, even though he appears to have possibly misunderstood the article, as was reported by the Washington Post.
A quick look at the facts tells a different story than Trump’s tweet implies. For starters, the JCPOA includes no provisions that grant any number of Iranian citizens or members of government green cards, naturalization, or any form of U.S. citizenship. US immigration data shows no spikes in naturalizations outside of historical norms and trends. No spike in green cards issued to Iranians has been reported by the Department of Homeland Security, either. Former deputy national security director Ben Rhodes tweeted back at Trump.
This is just a big lie. It's not true. Yet I'm guessing that this context will be missing from Trump's propaganda media machine. https://t.co/6Rm2oZG9BH— Ben Rhodes (@brhodes) July 3, 2018
The New York Times has pointed out that this tweet, like many other arguments Trump has made regarding the U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA, is nothing more than another narrative to justify the move. Others have speculated the president is trying to draw attention away from other issues. Whatever the reason for the tweet was, the one thing that is known is that no Iranians appear to have gained special entry to the U.S. as part of the JCPOA, nor does it appear that the idea of offering such was ever broached during negotiations. Without evidence, this is yet another conspiracy theory Trump has pinned to Obama only to watch it fall apart.