Santorum: Panetta Is ‘Ignoring The Facts’ By Claiming That Iran Isn’t Building A Nuke

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"Santorum: Panetta Is ‘Ignoring The Facts’ By Claiming That Iran Isn’t Building A Nuke"

Despite the hawkish foreign policy positions of the GOP presidential field, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum has set himself apart in giving voice to some of the most extreme assertions about Iran’s nuclear program. In an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, Santorum asserted that an Iranian nuclear weapon was a near certainty unless the U.S. takes military action.

Santorum’s views completely ignore the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) most recent report — the IAEA expressed “serious concerns” about the possible military dimension of the nuclear but did not assert that Iran had resumed its nuclear weapons program — and the reported consensus opinion of all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies that Iran has not yet chosen to make a weapon. Hannity led by asking Santorum about Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s recent statement that Iran is not trying to develop a nuclear weapon:

HANNITY: Let me ask you one national security question. Leon Panetta was on, “Face the Nation” this weekend, he was asked whether or not Iran was trying to develop a nuclear weapon, his answer was, no. And you said that you would, as president, would take out Iranian nuclear site.

SANTORUM: The amount of cognitive dis[sonance], the amount of just completely ignoring the facts. […] They’re building this nuclear facility next to where the Mahdi is supposed to return.

Where their savior is supposed to come back who’s going to bring about this glorious victory for radical Islam. It is so obvious. Why would a country that has one of the richest supplies of oil and natural gas, build a nuclear power plant?

Watch it:

But what appears “so obvious” to Santorum is not so obvious to the U.S. intelligence community or the IAEA, a set of institutions presumed to have access to far more intelligence capabilities on Iran’s nuclear program than the former senator from Pennsylvania.

Following the release of the most recent IAEA report on Iran’s nuclear program in November, a senior White House official told the National Journal:

The IAEA does not assert that Iran has resumed a full scale nuclear weapons program nor does it have a program [sic] about how advanced the programs really are.

And Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, in testimony on Capitol Hill last year, agreed with Senate Armed Serves Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) that “Iran has not made a decision as of this point to restart its nuclear weapons program.”

None of the statements from the IAEA, the White House or the U.S. intelligence community preclude the possibility that Iran may someday pursue a nuclear weapon or seeks to develop a “breakout capability” while stopping short of building a nuclear weapon. But Santorum’s willingness to order airstrikes against Iran’s nuclear program appears to be more strongly rooted in his hatred of “radical Islam” and Iran than any established facts about Iran’s nuclear intentions.

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