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State Spokeswoman Rebukes NYT Reporter On Twitter About Iran’s Nuclear Stockpile

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Erica Wenig Contributor
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Department of State spokeswoman Marie Harf challenged a New York Times reporter on Twitter Wednesday, disputing implications about Iran increasing its nuclear stockpile.

Reporter David Sanger co-wrote the article with William J. Broad, saying Iran boosted its nuclear fuel by 20 percent in the past 18 months, citing a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released Friday.

Sanger claims this revelation partly undermines President Barack Obama’s claim that Iran’s stockpile was “frozen” during the period, implying Iran is moving in the opposite direction of the terms laid out by the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA)– the framework for discussions signed in 2013.

The report by the IAEA “poses a major diplomatic and political challenge for Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry,” reports The New York Times:

In essence, the administration will have to convince Congress and America’s allies that Iran will shrink its stockpile by 96 percent in a matter of months after a deal is signed, even while it continues to produce new material and has demonstrated little success in reducing its current stockpile.

Harf said her team was “quite frankly perplexed because the main contentions of it are just totally inaccurate,” addressing the article in a press conference Tuesday.

Iran is allowed fluctuations in its production of low enrichment uranium (LEU) until the final agreement is reached. The issue is that Iran has a bigger stockpile of LEU than would be allowed by the deal, so Iran would have to either convert it or ship it out of the country by the June 30 deadline.

The Institute for Science and International Security, a research institute in Washington D.C., released an analysis of the IAEA report Friday, highlighting important aspects in simpler terms.

Sanger tweeted a link to institute’s report in support of his article’s claims. Then, Harf rebuked him in a series of tweets, quoting from the piece and seeking to disprove allegations.

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