Reality Check: Ron Paul vs. Michele Bachmann on Iran: Who has their facts?

Published: Dec. 21, 2011 at 3:28 AM EST|Updated: Dec. 21, 2011 at 11:33 AM EST
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(FOX19) - During last Thursday's Republican debate, a back and forth between Congressman Ron Paul and Congressman Michele Bachmann set the stage for the two sides of this argument over what to do about Iran's nuclear program.

"Without a shadow of a doubt Iran will take a nuclear weapon. They will use it to wipe our ally Israel off the face of the map and they've stated they will use it against the United States of America."  said Rep. Bachmann to the crowd in Iowa.

That is not true, however.

Let's begin with what Iran has stated about a nuclear weapon.

In October of 2005, when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad first became Iran's president, he did call for Israel to be wiped off the map.

But the statements were not connected to a nuclear weapon.  Iran's president has repeatedly said that his country is not looking to build a nuclear weapon..

He has never been quoted as saying that he would attack the United States.

That doesn't mean that he wouldn't, but its untrue to say that he has said that he would.

Rep. Bachmann continued, "And we have an IAEA report that just came out that says literally Iran is within just months of being able to obtain that weapon."

That statement is not quite accurate.

According to the IAEA report, released on Nov. 8 of this year, the agency said they have serious concerns regarding possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear program.

Information indicates that Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device.

The report did not give any specific timeline for the development of a nuclear explosive device.

It was an article in the L.A. Times, where un-named sources stated that, "Nuclear inspectors have concluded that Iran has acquired the technical means to design a nuclear weapon and would require about six months to enrich uranium to the quality needed for a bomb if it decided to do so."

So, that covers Bachmann's statements.

But what about Rep. Paul's statement that seems to downplay Iran's nuclear weapon intentions?

"There is no U.N. evidence of that happening. Clapper in our National Security Department says that there is no evidence and it is no different than it was in 2003,"  said Congressman Paul.

That statement is technically true.

You heard Congressman Paul refer to Clapper.  He is talking about the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper.

It's true that Clapper said while testifying before the U.S. Senate in March of this year, "There isn't definitive proof that Iran would build a weapon" but he also said that Iran was keeping the option open.

Here is the statement: "We continue to assess Iran is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons in part by developing various nuclear capabilities that better position it to produce such weapons, should it choose to do so. We do not know, however, if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons." -James Clapper, Senate testimony, March 10, 2011.

So, while Iran may not be building a nuclear weapon, the country may be positioning itself to do so, maybe?

Here's what you need to know.

The "maybe" here is exactly the problem.

Since the United States began its war with Iraq, nearly $1 trillion in treasure, has been spent.

4,500 U.S. troops have been killed, another 32,000 wounded and over 650-thousand Iraqis killed.

Remember, all because of what we thought, no, what we "knew" - that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and were pursing a nuclear weapon.

In October 2002, this statement was made concerning Iraq:

"There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons and will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years."

So said Democrat Senator Jay Rockefeller and dozens of other politicians and even world leaders.

They were wrong about Iraq.

Can we afford to be wrong about Iran?  Can we afford to wait and see?

That is what voters have to decide.

And that is Reality Check.

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