Getting Iran to Comply With Previous Agreement ‘Not Topic of Conversation’ for Final Deal, Says Harf
Getting Iranian nuclear fuel stockpiles down to levels it agreed upon for its interim nuclear agreement is “not a topic of conversation” for the comprehensive deal with Iran facing a June 30 deadline, said State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf on Wednesday.
Defending the Obama administration’s position in negotiations against recent reports that Iran had failed to follow up on its commitments in the Joint Plan of Action, an interim agreement signed between negotiators from Iran and world powers in November 2013.
Speaking with journalists during the State Department’s daily press briefing on Wednesday, Harf insisted Iran had not flown in the face of the interim agreement by increasing its nuclear fuel stockpiles because that number was allowed to fluctuate, as long as it stayed under 7,650 kilograms by June 30.
But even if Iran failed to comply, the issue would not weigh heavily on the U.S.’s confidence in a new agreement, to be finalized by June 30, called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
Harf, who began the meeting by telling journalists that Secretary of State John Kerry had begun physical therapy following a cycling accident he suffered in Switzerland over the weekend, said the issue of getting Iran’s nuclear fuel stockpiles down under 7,650 kilograms as per the interim agreement, and under 300 kilograms as per the impending comprehensive agreement had been “conflated.”
But critics of the deal say Iran has failed to show goodwill to previous agreements and therefore cannot be trusted to follow the criteria of the comprehensive agreement.
They warn that an Iran emboldened by lifted economic sanctions would continue to expand its influence in the Middle East, where it already has apparent proxies functioning in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen and Bahrain.
Additionally, many are concerned that it would be very challenging to snap back international economic sanctions should Iran be found to cheat on a final deal.
“What really matters is how to get that down to 300” kilograms of nuclear fuel, said Harf.
Negotiators from Iran, the U.S., U.K., Russia, China, France and Germany are working to finish a deal with Iran by later this month that would lift sanctions in exchange for supervised restrictions on the country’s nuclear program.