Yesterday, a new non-profit organization called Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran (CNFI) launched a national ad campaign attacking the nuclear deal with Iran. However judging by the age of the organization and the immense funding behind it, a more accurate name might be “A Few Wealthy Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran.” CNFI was launched in June, and it’s website went public today. CNFI has already spent roughly $1.5 million for over 2,000 30-second ad spots now running in at least 20 different states as well as in Washington D.C. According to the New York Times, it plans to spend $20 million over the course of the campaign in 30-40 states. Here is one of the ads from this campaign:
The ad claims that “restrictions end after 10 years, then Iran could build a nuclear weapon in two months.” The truth is that some restrictions end after 10 years, some after 15, and some provisions such as inspections of Iran’s supply line of uranium continue for 25 years. Inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities however, continue indefinitely. For at least 10 years, Iran will have a break out time of at least one year. But Iran’s commitment not to build a nuclear weapon is permanent, and with tough inspections in place there’s no reason to believe they will move closer to building one after 10-15 years.
The ad ends by saying that “Congress should reject a bad deal. We need a better deal.” But what path does CNFI suggest to get from a rejected agreement to a better deal? It suggests none, because no such path exists.
A number of articles claim that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) created this organization, and the evidence certainly supports that conclusion. According to an e-mail sent by AIPAC to its supporters, “A new organization called Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran (CNFI) has been created to help educate the American public and our elected representatives about the many dangers of this proposed deal.” According to paperwork submitted to the Federal Communications Commission, Patrick Dorton, the CEO of Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran, is also a partner at Rational 360, a communications firm that lists AIPAC as one of its clients. According to the Sunlight Foundation, the phone number listed on the FCC filings, and the address used by CNFI, is connected to Phillip Friedman, a lawyer who is currently a general counsel for AIPAC and has been since 1995.
Clearly, CNFI would not exist without AIPAC. But why wouldn’t AIPAC just launch this new ad campaign through its own tax-exempt organization, the American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF)? Perhaps because everybody knows where AIPAC stands on the Iran deal, and AIPAC wants to create the sense that average “citizens” hate this deal just as much as it does. Spoiler alert: they don’t.