State Department spokesman grilled on Iran

State Department spokesman admits public was kept in the dark about side deal that would lift some of the nuclear restrictions on Iran.

Elad Benari,

State Department building
State Department building
Thinkstock

State Department spokesman Mark Toner on Tuesday acknowledged that the public was kept in the dark about a side deal of the Iran nuclear agreement that would lift some of the nuclear restrictions on Iran in a decade.

The revelation was made Monday through a confidential document obtained by The Associated Press (AP).

The document says that as of January 2027 — 11 years after the deal was implemented — Iran will start replacing its mainstay centrifuges with thousands of advanced machines.

From year 11 to 13 of the agreement, the document reveals, Iran will install centrifuges up to five times as efficient as the 5,060 machines it is now restricted to using.

While Toner acknowledged the public was kept in the dark about the confidential document, he denied when grilled by AP reporter Matt Lee about the document was, indeed, “secret”.

A video of the exchange between the two was posted by The Washington Free Beacon:

Lee asked Toner what qualified as secret to him, noting that he thought anything that was “not public” was the same as secret. Toner, for his part, said the circumstances of the document were known to the world powers who brokered the Iran deal, meaning that it was not secret.

“It’s most likely Iran’s R&D plan, and that was thoroughly vetted and reviewed by the P5+1, as well as the IAEA,” he said, according to The Washington Free Beacon. “So I think what we’re pushing back on is the sense that this is somehow some new document to drop that changes the parameters or changes our expectations with regard to Iran’s nuclear program past year 10.”

Lee pressed Toner on the issue, pointing out that citizens outside of Congress and the nuclear discussions were kept in the dark to this facet of the Iran deal.

“No one outside that knew what it was or knew its contents,” Lee said. “Did they? It’s the information in the document that is new to the public. Right?”

Toner responded by admitting, “I’m not going to argue that, yes. That’s true.”

The document revealed by AP marks yet another problematic revelation related to the nuclear deal signed with Iran.

In February, the IAEA said Iran briefly exceeded a limit set by its deal with major powers, though it stressed that Tehran then came back within the permitted bounds.

An IAEA report dated December 2 found that Iran had conducted "a range of activities relevant to the development" of a nuclear bomb until 2009.

The UN watchdog had also previously released a report which determined that Iran had violated the terms of its nuclear deal with the West by increasing its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by 460.2 kilograms.

Despite these violations, the IAEA chose to close its probe into whether Iran had developed nuclear weapons in the past and subsequently announced that Iran met its initial obligations under the terms of the nuclear deal, enabling the implementation of the agreement and lifting of the sanctions on Iran.


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