State Department spokesman Mark Toner acknowledged Tuesday that the public was kept in the dark about a side deal of the Iran nuclear agreement that would lift some of the nuclear restrictions on the rogue regime in a decade.
News broke Monday that the Obama administration struck a secret deal with Iran as evidenced by a confidential document, which effectively cuts in half the amount of time Iran would need to break out for a bomb. According to the Associated Press, "the diplomat who shared the text with the AP described it as an add-on agreement to the nuclear deal in the form of a document submitted by Iran to the International Atomic Energy Agency outlining its plans to expand its uranium enrichment program after the first 10 years of the nuclear deal."
AP reporter Matt Lee asked Toner what qualified as secret to him. Lee said he thought anything that was "not public" was the same as secret, but Toner said the circumstances of the document were known to the world powers who brokered the Iran deal.
"It's most likely Iran's R&D plan, and that was thoroughly vetted and reviewed by the P5+1, as well as the IAEA," he said." So I think what we're pushing back on is the sense that this is somehow some new document to drop that changes the parameters or changes our expectations with regard to Iran's nuclear program past year 10."
Lee pressed him, though, pointing out that citizens outside of Congress and the nuclear discussions were kept in the dark to this facet of the Iran deal.
"No one outside that knew what it was or knew its contents," Lee said. "Did they? It's the information in the document that is new to the public. Right?
"I'm not going to argue that, yes," Toner said. "That's true."
MATT LEE: Yesterday, in response to the story out of Vienna on this document, Iranian R&D document, you said in written comments that there is no secret document or secret deal. The supposed secret document appears to be—
MARK TONER: Taking my line. I was just going to reiterate that, forcefully.
LEE: Yeah. I'm just trying to figure out what exactly is it in your mind and the mind of people in this building that constitutes secret.
TONER: Well, I mean, look, this is a fair question—Go ahead.
LEE: Because, later on it says 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.
TONER: So, 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, 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 most likely Iran's R&D plan, and that was thoroughly vetted and reviewed by the P5+1, as well as the IAEA. So I think what we're pushing back on is the sense that this is somehow some new document to drop that changes the parameters—
LEE: Well, it's not new.
TONER: Or changes our expectations with regard to Iran's nuclear program past year 10.
LEE: 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—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, would have been able to see it. But no one outside that knew what it was or knew its contents.
TONER: But this is part—
LEE: Did they? No.
LEE: So that's the—it's the information in the document that is new to the public.
TONER: To the public.
TONER: I'm not going to argue that, yes. That's true.