State Department Spokeperson Mark Toner Addresses Iran Exceeding Heavy Water Limit (Excerpts)

November 9, 2016


QUESTION:  And this also has to do with the transition.  So you will have seen that the IAEA report came out today finding Iran to be in violation of the heavy water stockpile provision of it.  This is the second time that’s happened.  Why are you – or do you still say – is it still your position that Iran is adhering to its commitments?

MR TONER:  So I have to caveat my response by saying we normally don’t discuss the details of these reports before they’re made public by the Board of Governors.  But as you note, the report’s already been in the media, and as you note, there were in the coverage some concerns reported on – sorry – in the reports on the report, there are concerns about – that Iran has exceeded its heavy water limit.  And indeed, the IAEA has observed that Iran has slightly exceeded its 130 metric ton heavy water stockpile limit under the JCPOA by 100 kilograms.  So that’s about one-tenth of a metric ton.  

A couple of points to make on that.  It’s important to note that Iran made no effort to hide this – hide what it was doing from the IAEA.  During the course of its ongoing heavy water production, Iran produced a little more heavy water than permitted but is now taking steps to address the issue by shipping a – the excess quantity out of the country, we expect in the coming days.  So the IAEA flagged us.  Iran made no attempt to hide it, and they’re taking immediate steps to address it.

QUESTION:  And that’s supposed to make – that’s supposed to be a relief, that they made no effort to hide it?

MR TONER:  No, I just wanted to – I said --  

QUESTION:  So it’s okay if they blatantly violate it and don’t try and to – don’t try to cover it up?  I don’t get it.  

MR TONER:  Well, Matt --   

QUESTION:  It’s a violation, is it not?

MR TONER:  Well, look, it is – so they exceeded the limits.  They acknowledged it.

QUESTION:  Right.  That’s a violation, is it not?

MR TONER:  Well, again, it’s – but they’re addressing it.  I mean, this is something that --  

QUESTION:  But did they – so you don’t think – they violated the deal and you can’t – and you won’t say that they violated the deal?  I don’t --   

MR TONER:  So they – again, yes, they exceeded the allowable amount of heavy water that they were permitted.

QUESTION:  Is that or is that not a violation of the agreement?  Whether or not they’re taking steps to address it, they still violated it, didn’t they?

MR TONER:  I’m not sure whether that constitutes a formal violation.  I’d have to look into that, to be honest with you.  I mean, they certainly exceeded, again, what their – their allowable amount of heavy water.  Whether that constitutes, again, a formal violation of JCPOA writ large, I’m not certain about that.  Again, what’s important here is that this was detected, it was acknowledged, and they’re taking steps to address it.