IL-Sen: Mark Kirk (R) Gets His Facts Wrong Regarding Nelson Mandela & South Africa's Nuclear Program

IL-Sen: Mark Kirk (R) Gets His Facts Wrong Regarding Nelson Mandela & South Africa's Nuclear Program

U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R. IL) has been pushing his Iran Sanctions Bill which would greatly undermine President Obama's negotiations with Iran:

U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, right, speaks to Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, and other area law enforcement officials as he highlights his anti-gang legislation that was recently included in the Senate Commerce, Justice and Science funding bill, at a news conference Monday, Aug. 19, 2013, in Chicago. During the event Kirk says he recently went on a ride-along with Chicago police to see areas plagued by street-gang violence. And he even responded to a call where one alleged gang member was shot. Asked about his tour of Englewood, Kirk used slang for a shooting and said: ìOne guy got popped.î (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

Senate hawks like Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) do not like diplomacy with Iran. Graham has repeatedly threatened war with Iran, whereas Kirk prefers to starve the Iranian people. Yet, given that most Americans do not want another military adventure in the Middle East, and largely support a negotiated nuclear deal with Iran, the hawks are pivoting. Instead of doubling down on untenable positions, hardliners like Graham and Kirk are now offering their own versions of an unobtainable perfect deal to provide cover to kill the good deal in front of us. The problem is, based on their recent comments on the scope of a final agreement, their versions of a “better deal” are, in many regards, much less stringent than what President Obama and the P5+1 have actually lined up.

Senator Kirk, who has been warning of nothing short of nuclear Armageddon if a nuclear deal goes through, made fairly dubious recommendations during remarks at the Chicago Council on Global Affairslast week. According to Sen. Kirk, a good deal would look like “the agreement that Nelson Mandela signed with the international community to get rid of his four nuclear weapons that he had.” If it’s good enough for Mandela, it should be good enough for Iran, according to Kirk. That’s a catchy phrase, but one that is completely and utterly inaccurate. - National Iranian American Council, 5/19/15

Here's the argument Kirk has been making:

“What would a good agreement look like? A good agreement in my view would be the agreement that Nelson Mandela signed with the international community to get rid of his four nuclear weapons that he had. … I have told many members of Congress, when they ask what does a good agreement look like, I have said, ‘If it’s good enough for Nelson Mandela, it should be good enough for Ayatollah Rouhani.” - Sen. Mark Kirk (R. IL), The Chicago Council On Global Affairs, 5/15/15

And he's also been saying this:

“There is one simple plan, if they do exactly what Nelson Mandela did on disarming nuclear weapons. As you know, South Africa built four nuclear weapons, and when Nelson Mandela wanted to get rid of them, he agreed to anytime, anywhere inspections. So international inspectors could go, even go through his underwear in his home at any time, at any place, looking for evidence of nukes.” - Sen. Mark Kirk (R. IL), Hugh Hewitt Show, 3/24/15

Now here's where Kirk gets his facts completely wrong:

epa03771019  (FILE) An undated file photo of former South African President Nelson Mandela (R) talking to incumbent State President FW de Klerk (L) at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, South Africa, 04 February 2010. Media reports on 02 July 2013 state that FW De Klerk, was admitted to hospital and will have a pacemaker installed, his foundation said. 'Mr De Klerk felt dizzy and saw his specialist yesterday.' He has had several such spells in recent weeks and his specialist recommended the immediate installation of a pacemaker. He will be fitted with a pacemaker later today and will spend the night in hospital," according to the statement. De Klerk, 77, was awarded the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize alongside Nelson Mandela, who is currently in hospital in critical condition.  EPA/STR

The history has been fairly well-documented. The apartheid regime of South Africa had embarked on a secret nuclear weapons program in the 1970s and ultimately built six nuclear weapons (not four, as Kirk stated), each with 55 kilograms of highly-enriched uranium. In September 1989, newly elected President F.W. de Klerk — the last white president of the country — told officials he had decided to dismantle the program.

At the time, Nelson Mandela was still in prison, where he had been for a quarter century. A key motivation to end the program was that de Klerk was intent on ending apartheid and was worried about leaving a nuclear stockpile in the hands of a future South African government.

On Feb. 11, 1990, de Klerk released Mandela from prison. That same month, he issued written instructions to terminate the program and dismantle the weapons. On July 10, 1991, South Africa acceded to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Given that Mandela did not become president until May of 1994, three years after the weapons were slated to be scrapped, what is Kirk talking about?

There’s a clue in the slide that appeared as Kirk spoke at the Chicago Council. With the tagline of “Good Enough for Mandela, Good Enough for Iran,” the slide purports to show how South Africa’s inspections compare to arrangements with North Korea and Iran in terms of transparency. South Africa is represented by a picture of Mandela.

But this is historically inaccurate as well. Initially, the South Africa government chose not to tell the International Atomic Energy Agency that it had a secret bomb program. As Waldo Stumpf, the head of South Africa’s Atomic Energy Corp., explained in 1995, officials believed the country’s “internal political transformation process” was not ready for such an announcement. Moreover, the stand-off at the time between Iraq and the IAEA over Baghdad’s nuclear program made South African officials fearful that they would become a “second Iraqi case.”

But when De Klerk decided to reveal the weapons program in 1993, after pressure from Mandela’s African National Congress and increasing suspicions from the IAEA, he also told the IAEA that they could conduct visits “anywhere, any time, any place—within reason.”

David Albright, a former weapons inspector and an expert of the South Africa case, said “it was de Klerk who made this offer after he admitted to a nuclear weapons program. It was definitely de Klerk who set this up with the IAEA.” - Washington Post, 5/21/15

Pretty shameful that Kirk has to resort to to distorting Nelson's legacy in order to start a war with Iran. Democrats are eyeing to take him out next year. I for one am backing Rep. Tammy Duckworth's (D. IL) U.S. Senate campaign who has bashed Kirk on Iran in the past:

Democratic U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth on Tuesday criticized Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk as "irresponsible" for recently signing an open letter to the government of Iran regarding ongoing nuclear talks.

Duckworth was referencing a letter signed this month by 47 Republican senators who warned Iranian officials that any nuclear deal negotiated by the Obama administration could expire as soon as the president leaves office. Democrats argue the letter interferes with talks to curtail Iran's nuclear activities.

"To come together in a very partisan way and send a letter to a foreign nation that does not have America's best interest at its heart, that undermines our nation's unity, I think is very irresponsible and it's certainly not befitting of a United States senator," said Duckworth, a two-term lawmaker from Hoffman Estates. - Chicago Tribune, 3/31/15

If you would like to donate and get involved with Duckworth's campaign, you can do so here: