State Department spokesman John Kirby snapped at a reporter Thursday when asked about a report that there were “secret exemptions” in the administration’s nuclear deal with Iran.
Kirby became testy when pressed by Arshad Mohammed of Reuters about the “consensus” of the joint commission — the countries that negotiated the agreement with Iran — after he had stipulated the joint commission had given Iran “guidance” on some of the agreement.
“I want to make sure you’re saying something accurate here, that every member of the joint commission has decided it’s better to keep its deliberations and decisions secret or if you’re using the word ‘consensus’ in some other, non-precise way.”
That’s when Kirby fired back.
“Don’t insult me, and don’t stand up there and try to lecture me on English, OK?” Kirby said. “Let’s be grown-ups here. In diplomatic discussions, particularly multilateral ones, as I said, those discussions are confidential unless all parties agree otherwise.”
He continued, “So, the joint commission — and I don’t know who voted for what, and frankly it’s irrelevant — the joint commission has decided to keep their work confidential, as they are expected to do, unless they choose otherwise in accordance with the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action].”
The exchange comes on the heels of a report of a renegotiation of a provision of the deal that would exempt Tehran from a provision intended to cap its stockpile of low-enriched uranium.
The claims were made by David Albright, the founder and president of the Institute for Science and International
Security, a think tank that has been a frequent critic of the Iran deal.
“These decisions, which are written down, amount to additional secret or confidential documents linked to the JCPOA,” said the report co-written by Albright. “Moreover, the Joint Commission’s secretive decision making process risks advantaging Iran by allowing it to try to systematically weaken the JCPOA. It appears to be succeeding in several key areas.”
The Obama administration denied the report and characterized it as an attempt “by critics of the deal to undermine it with misinformation and distortions.”￼￼
Albright, a physicist who participated in U.N. weapons inspections in Iraq, has frequently raised questions about whether the year-old nuclear deal is being implemented as promised.
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