he U.S. State Dept. is “perplexed” over a report in The New York Times Tuesday that Iran’s stockpile of nuclear fuel has increased 20 percent since the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) that was supposed to limit its nuclear fuel.
There are two news items in one: The report raises questions whether any deal with Iran can be other than “bad,” but no less significant is that it was published in the newspaper that is considered close to being the Obama administration’s unofficial public relations office.
The New York Times reported:
With only one month left before a deadline to complete a nuclear deal with Iran, international inspectors have reported that Tehran’s stockpile of nuclear fuel increased about 20 percent over the last 18 months of negotiations, partially undercutting the Obama administration’s contention that the Iranian program had been ‘frozen’ during that period.
But Western officials and experts cannot quite figure out why.
The authors of the article speculated that technical problems may have prevented the conversion of enriched uranium into fuel roads for reactors, making it worthless for a nuclear weapon. A second possibility is that Iran simply is playing games and increasing its stockpile to use as a bargaining chip in negotiations for a final deal by June 30, the deadline President Barack Obama has imposed for an agreement.
State Dept. spokeswoman Marie Harf told reported Tuesday:
Our team read that story this morning and was quite frankly perplexed because the main contentions of it are totally inaccurate.
First, the notion in the story that western officials or U.S. officials involved were unaware of this issue or not understanding of what this entails is just absurdץ. Under the JPOA, Iran can fluctuate its numbers in terms of their stockpile. They can go up and down as long as at the end of fixed date they are back down below a number.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said in March:
We’ve actually succeeded in not just halting Iran’s progress as it relates to their nuclear program but actually rolling it back in several key areas, including reducing and eliminating their stockpile of highly enriched uranium.
Harf expressed the Obama administration’s belief that everything will be fine and dandy because Iran promised to live up to its agreements.
What matters is that they have committed already.
The Institute for Science and International Security’s David Albright and Serene Kelleher-Vergantini have stated:
Iran has fallen behind in its pledge to convert its newly produced LEU hexafluoride into oxide form. There are legitimate questions about whether Iran can produce all the requisite LEU oxide …. Iran has clearly fallen —–behind in its pledge under the JPA.
But not to worry. Iran is committed to its word.