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November 11, 2016 5:22 pm

US State Department Declines to Acknowledge Apparent Iranian Violation of Nuclear Deal

avatar by Barney Breen-Portnoy

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US State Department spokesman Mark Toner. Photo: Video Screenshot.

US State Department spokesman Mark Toner. Photo: Video Screenshot.

Despite a finding published by the UN’s atomic energy agency this week that Iran has — for the second time — stockpiled more heavy water than permitted under the terms of the nuclear agreement it reached with six world powers last year, the US State Department is declining to acknowledge this as a violation of the deal.

At a press briefing on Wednesday, State Department spokesman Mark Toner excused Iran, saying it had “made no effort to…hide what it was doing from the IAEA.”

Pressed about the issue again on Thursday, Toner told reporters, “I’m not going to use the V word (violation) necessarily in this case, but we and our partners are going to continue to hold Iran accountable. And because of the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), we do have a system in place that we can hold Iran accountable.”

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Toner went on to say, “If you look at the wording within the JCPOA, it actually says that Iran’s needs, consistent with the parameters…are estimated to be 130 metric tons. That’s not a hard, certain figure. That said, it is a ceiling that we look at and certainly the IAEA looks at. But to say because it’s, I think, one-tenth of a metric ton over that limit — to say that’s an outright violation of the JCPOA and would somehow put that agreement in doubt, I think — I don’t want to necessarily say that.”

Speaking with The Algemeiner on Thursday, Ilan Berman — vice president of the Washington, DC-based conservative think tank the American Foreign Policy Council — said, “This speaks to the heart of the problem President-elect Donald Trump is going to have. There is no tried and true guideline for the US determining what’s a material breach of the JCPOA and what’s not. Theoretically, it’s supposed to be adjudicated between the parties. But it’s quite possible that something like this under the Trump administration will cause the White House to say, ‘Iran is in material breach, snap-back kicks in right now.’ And it’s equally possible that something like this won’t be treated as a major breach by one of the other P5+1 partners, which will create a diplomatic problem with no clear way forward.”

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