The deadline for President Trump to re-certify the Iran nuclear deal is looming on May 12th. And on Sunday’s Last Week Tonight, John Oliver detailed the “long-term and potentially irreversible” damage of allowing that agreement to fall apart.
Trump has consistently – in interviews, speeches and angry tweets – lambasted the Iran deal. “He’s called it ‘terrible,’ ‘a catastrophe,’ ‘stupid,’ ‘insane,’ ‘incompetent,’ ‘really sad,’ ‘horrible,’ ‘horrendous,’ ‘horrible,’ ‘horrible,’ ‘terrible,’ incompetent’ and ‘one of the dumbest and most dangerous misjudgments ever,'” Oliver noted, “which is, coincidentally, also exactly what Trump writes in Don Jr.’s birthday card every year, as is appropriate.”
The comedian quickly recapped the terms of the nuclear deal, which Iran struck in 2015 with the U.S., the U.K., France, Germany, the E.U., China and Russia. In exchange for the international community lifting extensive and debilitating economic sanctions, Iran agreed, among other terms, to reduce its stockpile of uranium by 98 percent and not enrich that uranium above 3.67 percent – a number significantly lower than the 90 percent purity required to create weapons. (“Trying to make a bomb at under four percent enrichment is like trying to get drunk off a single can of PBR,” Oliver cracked. “You can’t. It cannot be done. There’s no fucking way to do it – not unless you’re a gerbil, and even then, only if you’re drinking on an empty stomach.”)
The host recapped – and debunked – Trump’s numerous complaints about the deal, including the claim that Iran can “self-inspect” their own nuclear sites. He also called the president’s renegotiation demands “complete non-starters”: “He wants a ban on ballistic missile testing, unconstrained access to any military site and no expiration of any clause in the agreement ever,” Oliver said. “If those are deal-breakers for him, this deal is broken.”
The comedian offered no real words of encouragement, noting that “unless Congress or our European allies figure out something they can sell to Trump as a ‘fix,'” the deal appears to be on the verge of collapse.
“Set aside the set that you would alienate a whole generation of younger Iranians who support this deal – just think about what this would do to America’s credibility,” he said. “Why would North Korea consider signing a nuclear agreement with us if we just broke the agreement we signed only three years ago with Iran? And if this deal dies and Iran resumes its nuclear weapons program, it could then start a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.”
In a dramatic last-ditch step, Oliver recruited his beloved, recurring character the Catheter Cowboy to subliminally influence Trump in a hilarious ad about the Iran deal. The commercial is scheduled to run this week on one of Trump’s favorite shows, Hannity, in the Washington D.C. area.