State Department Spokesperson Mark Toner Addresses AP Story on Iran's Long-Term Enrichment Plan (Excerpts)

July 19, 2016


QUESTION: About Iran.

MR TONER: Oh, yeah.

QUESTION: Yesterday in response to the story out of Vienna on the – this document – the Iranian --


QUESTION: -- R&D document. You said in a written comments --

MR TONER: Yes, sir.

QUESTION: -- that there is no secret document or secret deal. The supposed secret document appears to be --

MR TONER: You’re taking my line. I was just going to reiterate that forcefully from that --

QUESTION: Yeah, I’m just trying to figure out what exactly is it in your mind --


QUESTION: -- and the mind of people in this building that constitutes “secret.”

MR TONER: Well, I mean, look, this is a fair question.

QUESTION: Because --

MR TONER: It’s a --

QUESTION: -- later on it says --

MR TONER: Go ahead.

QUESTION: -- this plan is an IAEA Safeguards Confidential Document, meaning it is not public. “Not public,” to me – I don’t care what you want to call it – if it’s not public, it is in some sense secret.

MR TONER: So look, let me attempt to answer this question. So I think my response, our response, was simply to say that this wasn’t a document that was somehow unknown to the P5+1, that was somehow unknown to those who are implementing the JCPOA or the IAEA, and certainly it was not something that was unknown to Congress. This is a, and as you note, an IAEA safeguards confidential document, and that means it’s not in the public sphere. But it’s also – and again, we’re drawing assumptions here on what this document is, but as you note, it’s Iran’s – most likely Iran’s R&D plan. And that was thoroughly vetted and reviewed by the P5+1 as well as the IAEA. So this – I think what we’re pushing back on is the sense that this is somehow some new document to drop that changes --

QUESTION: Well, it’s not new in the sense --

MR TONER: -- the parameters or changes our expectations with regard to Iran’s nuclear program past year 10.

QUESTION: It’s not --

MR TONER: Sorry.

QUESTION: It’s not new in the sense that it was, yes, completed back in July. But it is new in the fact that nobody outside – and there’s no suggestion that the IAEA or the P5+1 didn’t review or sign off on this. There’s also no suggestion that members of Congress who might have known – might have had an interest in it might – would have been able to see it. But no one outside that knew what it was or knew its contents.

MR TONER: But this is part --

QUESTION: Did they? No.

MR TONER: Sorry. Okay.

QUESTION: So that’s the – it’s the information in the document that is new to the public.

MR TONER: To the public.


MR TONER: I’m not going to argue that. Yes, that’s true.

QUESTION: Okay. So is it safe to assume, then, that, since you say that it was reviewed and that the Administration has full confidence that allowing Iran to operate second and third-generation centrifuges and escalating up their usage in years 11 through 13 of the deal will not have any impact on their ability to – on their breakout time capability after year 15, when the restrictions on the stockpile – excuse me – restrictions on the stockpile, uranium stockpile, lapse?

MR TONER: So we’re confident that Iran’s enrichment capacity in the years after, I guess, year 10 – the initial decade of the JCPOA – will undergo measured, incremental growth that is consistent with a peaceful civilian nuclear program. And if, for whatever reason, Iran tries to pursue a military nuclear program, we’re confident that we have the safeguards in place and the access in place to the information, to the data, to the material that we need to watch that we can detect that. So --

QUESTION: Until – even after year 15?

MR TONER: Even after 15.

QUESTION: Okay. So – but you’re not concerned the --

MR TONER: But again, part of the agreement here – sure.

QUESTION: You’re not concerned, though, that allowing them or giving them the ability to spin these centrifuges, second and third-generation centrifuges, would give them the expertise, experience to crank it up once they’re no longer constrained in other areas, especially the stockpile?

MR TONER: But again, I think what it is is we’re – so there’s kind of two aspects. One is this was always part of the agreement that Iran could begin to develop after year 10, consistent with a peaceful civilian nuclear program.


MR TONER: Under the JCPO – under – sorry.

QUESTION: Yes, that --

MR TONER: Under the IAEA’s watchful eye --

QUESTION: That – it says that in --


QUESTION: -- actually in the JCPOA.

MR TONER: Sorry. Yes. That’s correct.

QUESTION: But this document is not in the JCPOA, but --

MR TONER: No, but this is --

QUESTION: -- is the details of what that --

MR TONER: Sorry. But this is part of its – my understanding is it’s part of – right, it’s part of Iran’s commitment to – I’m looking for the – what the terminology is. But anyway, it’s about Iran trying to comply with IAEA standards going forward to develop a peaceful nuclear program and that they’re – part of that involves them coming up with this quote/unquote “R&D plan” and submitting that to the IAEA.


MR TONER: Yeah. Sorry.

QUESTION: Which no one in the public knew about until yesterday, correct? The contents of it.

MR TONER: That’s right. But --


MR TONER: But it was shared with P5+1 members; it was shared with the IAEA.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MR TONER: I understand it was not in – it was – no, it was not in the public domain.

QUESTION: All right. And then just also on Iran, the comments by Foreign Minister Zarif today. I don't know if you’ve seen them. Pretty dismissive of the United States – they can’t do a damn thing.

MR TONER: Look, I mean, we try not to wade into what we consider to be remarks that play to domestic audiences in Iran and --

QUESTION: Well, okay. So you don’t think that they – that he actually means this because he was just saying --

MR TONER: We’re confident that we have all the safeguards, all the access that we need to successfully monitor and, if needed, to restrict Iran’s ability to pursue a nuclear weapon.

QUESTION: And these don’t concern you at all?

MR TONER: I mean, look, it’s not helpful, but he’s playing to a domestic audience.