US dismisses New York Times' claim on Iran nuke stockpile

US dismisses New York Times
# 04 June 2015 01:52 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. A State Department representative got into Twitter spat with a reporter who claimed Iran has increased its nuclear stockpile above levels agreed to ahead of a June 30 deadline on the Islamic republic’s nuclear program, APA reports quoting Anadolu Agency.

New York Times reporters David Sanger and William Broad wrote Tuesday that Iran have increased its stockpiles by 20 percent during 18 months of talks with world powers, citing data contained in an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report released last Friday.

Under a Joint Plan of Action (JPAO) agreed to in November 2013 by Iran and the P5+1 countries – the five permanent members of UN Security Council, plus Germany – Iran must keep stockpiles below 7,650 kilograms, but the IAEA report shows that Iran's stockpile is approaching 10,000 kgs.

According to the Times, "Western officials and experts cannot quite figure out why" the stockpiles have increased that much, adding that it would become "a major diplomatic and political challenge" for the U.S. administration in reaching a nuclear deal.

Sanger tweeted the IAEA report saying, "For those at State Dept. ‘perplexed’ by story on Iran today, it's worth reading this study," referring to State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf's response when initially asked Tuesday.

Harf responded by suggesting the writers were wrong in their reporting. "You write that this partially undercuts our contention that the Iranian program has been 'frozen' - not true.

"And you insinuate Iran is doing something it's not supposed to do under the JPOA or in violation of its obligations - not true," she tweeted.

At a press conference Wednesday, Harf went into further detail about the stockpiles.

"The fact that this stockpile has gone above 7,650 (kgs) is not an obstacle in the negotiations. It is allowable under the JPOA, as long as they get back where they need to be. They've always gotten back where they need to be, and we expect they will here," she said.

If Iran fails to return to the expected level, it will then become a problem, she added.