Obama and Iran: “A critical mistake in the history of the world”

U.S. President Barack Obama and his administration are “making a critical mistake in the history of the world” believing that they through negotiations can get Iran to desist in constructing nuclear weapons, Dr. Marc Benhuri was saying this week.

“If radical Islam Shiite Iran is going to have nuclear weapons, we are going to have the third world war,” says Benhuri. And having nuclear weapons is the aim of the ayatollahs who run Iran, he says, and they “are playing Obama as a marionette. It’s a disaster.”

Iranian-born Benhuri is the author of the 2013 book Price For Freedom, just made into a movie. It’s based on how members of his Iranian Jewish family were terrorized, tortured and murdered when Ayatollah Khomeni came to power in Iran in 1979. He was studying in the U.S. at the time and stayed to get degrees in dentistry and mechanical engineering and to become a pioneer in the new science of implant surgery. He became chairman of the Department of Implant Dentistry at Columbia University and a visiting professor at universities around the world and is renowned as a dental implant surgeon and prosthodontist globally.

But his connections with Iran never ended—from as a college student having to, through a Muslim friend in London, arrange a $150,000 bribe to an ayatollah to have his father, a prominent Iranian businessman, released from prison. “My father would have been dead in a matter of two days,” he recounts. He then worked to help his father and mother and other family members and friends escape Iran.

On the negotiations with Iran over nuclear weapons, they “are absolutely the wrong thing to do,” says Benhuri. Iran only agreed to talk because the sanctions imposed on the country had left its economy in shambles—“police, soldiers, government workers, oil and factory workers were not getting paid.” If the Obama administration had continued with strong sanctions, the Iranian regime “would have been out of power now.” Indeed, says Benhuri, what the U.S. should do now is “bring on heavier sanctions and bring them to their knees.”

Then there needs to be an understanding about who is being dealt with. “They are the same fanatical followers and radical students of Ayatollah Khomeni,” says Benhuri. They are “thugs,” the “same group who held American diplomats hostage for 444 days.” It is “outrageous,” he says, that Obama “accommodates them and naively pretends he is going to accomplish peace and security through them.” Further, “Iran is a terrorist state supporting terrorism all over the world. It’s the birthplace of Islamic terrorism.”

Then a knowing comprehension of what Iran is demanding—and what the U.S. is now acceding to—is vital. “Iran is constantly maintaining that they are only seeking nuclear technology for peaceful purposes,” he said. “But for nuclear medicine and nuclear power, only five percent enrichment of uranium is necessary. They want to keep thousands of centrifuges—my information is that they now have 20,000 centrifuges—to enrich uranium by 20 percent and more. You don’t need such highly-enriched uranium for nuclear medicine or nuclear power—that’s only for atomic bombs. And the heavy water facilities they have and want to keep, that, too, is only for atomic bombs.”

“They want to make atomic bombs,” said Benhuri. He faults not only the Obama administration but the press “for not asking the question: if you are saying you only want to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, why do you need thousands of centrifuges and heavy water facilities?”

As to Obama and his administration’s stance on shunning Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he comes to speak before the U.S. Congress about the negotiations with Iran, it’s a “disgusting” move by Obama, he said.

“It’s an injustice to the safety of the United States,” says Benhuri.

Obama’s “forcing Democrats not to attend” the Netanyahu speech is “morally and ethically wrong. He has tremendous information that he can share with a friend. He knows what’s going on. He understands what would happen if Iran gets nuclear weapons,” said Benhuri. “Rather than saying ‘we’re not going to attend,’ listen, dialogue.”

He describes Obama as a “narcissist who thinks with his personality he can win over people.” He did the “same thing” he is seeking to do with Iran with Russian President Vladimir Putin “and Putin took advantage of him.”

As to Obama thinking the U.S. and its allies can work with Iran in taking on ISIS, “this is a pipe dream,” said Benhuri. “He does not understand Islam. He does not understand Shite Islam.” With the takeover of Iran of Ayatollah Khomeini, a radical Islamic movement began that has been responsible for the creation of Hezbollah and Hamas and “the epidemic of worldwide terrorism.”

Benhuri’s family goes back 2,500 years in what is now Iran. “We are children of Esther,” he said, recounting how Cyrus the Great invaded Babylon, freeing Jews from captivity, and the Biblical story that forms the basis for Purim: Jews in Persia facing annihilation but saved by Esther and her adopted father Mordecai.

Benhuri’s family in Iran was involved for many generations in medicine, he said. In the United States, he lived in Old Westbury on Long Island and now resides in Manhattan.

The movie version of his book Price For Freedom completed production two weeks ago. It was filmed principally in Middletown, New York. It opens with actor Robert Bogue of the U.S. TV program Guiding Light playing Ronald Reagan scolding staffers who had worked for his predecessor, Jimmy Carter, saying: “You and your boss [Carter] have allowed 52 Americans to be held for 400 days. You’re all fairly useless. Pack up your things and get out.” The Times Herald-Record newspaper of Middletown in an article on the production described the movie as “sort of an Iranian Version of Schindler’s List.” Benhuri is called Victor Daniels in the film and is played by Navid Negahban who was featured in the TV program Homeland and is in the current blockbuster film American Sniper. Stage and screen actor Paul Sorvino plays the Shah of Iran. Academy Award nominee Sally Kirkland is also in the cast as is Ken Davitian of the movie Borat.

Benhuri says the film is “done correctly, every part of it”—the opposite of his analysis of Obama’s negotiations with Iran.


About the Author
Karl Grossman is a professor of journalism at the State University of New York at Old Westbury who has specialized in investigative reporting for more than 50 years. He is the host of the TV program “Enviro Close-Up with Karl Grossman,” (, the writer and presenter of numerous TV documentaries and author of seven books.