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Carney Refuses to Contradict Iranian Claim on Centrifuges

• January 23, 2014 2:14 pm

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White House spokesman Jay Carney would not contradict Iranian president Hassan Rouhani’s boast that Iran would not dismantle uranium centrifuges "under any circumstances" as part of its nuclear deal with the U.S. Thursday. Carney merely repeated language from the deal that specified Iran would be required to dismantle "nuclear infrastructure."

"Iran will be required, under a comprehensive solution, to agree to strict limits and constraints on all aspects of its nuclear program, to include the dismantlement of significant portions of its nuclear infrastructure," Carney said.

Fox News reporter Ed Henry pressed him on that, repeating Rouhani's quote to CNN's Fareed Zakaria Thursday morning that Iran would not destroy its nuclear centrifuges "under any circumstances," leading to this exchange:

ED HENRY: On that point, for them to be serious, they would have to accept a deal that would involve the destruction of some centrifuges; correct?

JAY CARNEY: The dismantlement of significant portions of Iran's nuclear infrastructure.

HENRY: And by that, you mean centrifuges.

CARNEY: I'm not going to parse — I'm not going to parse —

HENRY: But specific, centrifuges, not just broad infrastructure.

CARNEY: On centrifuges.

HENRY: Yes.

CARNEY: Iran does not need nearly the centrifuge capacity that it has today. As part of the Joint Plan of Action, Iran committed to leave inoperable roughly half of installed centrifuges at Natanz and three-quarters of installed centrifuges at Fordow so they cannot be used to enrich uranium. As part of a comprehensive solution, we will require that Iran dismantle a significant amount of its nuclear infrastructure related to uranium enrichment.

Full exchange:

HENRY: But David Albright, who I think you would agree is an independent expert on all of this, had a — released a report, his think tank, just a few days ago that said specifically that Iran has to destroy 15,000 centrifuges as part of a final deal to make sure they don't get breakout technology, make sure they don't get nuclear weapons. So my question is, based on President Rouhani saying we're not — we're not going to destroy any centrifuges —

CARNEY: Well, I think the quote was — again, I don't speak Farsi but the — and again, it matters less to us what they say than what they do, but we are not is different from we will not. And there is absolutely, there is no disagreement that when it comes to —

HENRY: No, but let's just — (inaudible) — not under any — will you destroy centrifuges? Not under any circumstances.

CARNEY: Iran will be required, under a comprehensive solution, to agree to strict limits and constraints on all aspects of its nuclear program, to include the dismantlement of significant portions of its nuclear infrastructure.

Now, we are just at the beginning of this process. If Iran fails to comply with the agreements it's made or if Iran fails to reach agreement with the P-5 plus one on a comprehensive solution, we will be in a situation where we have to consider alternate steps to fulfill the president's commitment that Iran cannot be allowed to acquire a nuclear weapon. The point of the negotiations is to see whether or not Iran is serious about coming into compliance and meeting its obligations with its international commitments.

HENRY: On that point, for them to be serious, they would have to accept a deal that would involve the destruction of some centrifuges; correct?

CARNEY: The dismantlement of significant portions of Iran's nuclear infrastructure.

HENRY: And by that, you mean centrifuges.

CARNEY: I'm not going to parse — I'm not going to parse —

HENRY: But specific, centrifuges, not just broad infrastructure.

CARNEY: On centrifuges.

HENRY: Yes.

CARNEY: Iran does not need nearly the centrifuge capacity that it has today. As part of the Joint Plan of Action, Iran committed to leave inoperable roughly half of installed centrifuges at Natanz and three-quarters of installed centrifuges at Fordow so they cannot be used to enrich uranium. As part of a comprehensive solution, we will require that Iran dismantle a significant amount of its nuclear infrastructure related to uranium enrichment.

Again, we are at the beginning of a six-month process. Where we are at the end of that process and whether or not a comprehensive solution can be reached is unknown. But it is absolutely the right thing to do, having locked in the Joint Plan of Action and commitments that Iran has made to halt and roll back aspects of its nuclear program, to test whether or not Iran is serious about reaching a comprehensive solution, because ultimately the surest way to make sure that Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon is to have Iran's verifiable, transparent commitment not to do that.

So that's why the United States and the P-5 plus one is pursuing this potential diplomatic resolution to this conflict.

Published under: Ed Henry, Iran, Jay Carney, Nuclear Weapons