State Department spokesman John Kirby had trouble responding to questions from reporters on Friday about reports from German intelligence that Iran has been attempting to obtain illicit nuclear materials inside Germany.
Iran’s actions are in defiance of the nuclear deal that it signed along with the United States and five other world powers last summer, according to Germany’s domestic intelligence agency.
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Kirby stuck to his statement that the U.S. had no evidence that Iran has violated the nuclear accord, known as the JCPOA, but mentioned other issues involving Iran which are very concerning.
"Now, on the separate and distinct, you know, ballistic missile activity, support for terrorism, obviously we still have very valid concerns in that regard," Kirby said. "We’ve made no bones about that."
When asked by a reporter if Iran had sought to procure the nuclear equipment in question, Kirby said that neither he nor the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, had evidence of this. One reporter quickly noted hat the IAEA does not have the means to learn such actions are occurring.
"I have no information to indicate Iran has procured any materials in violation of the JCPOA, and as I said, the IAEA has reported that Iran continues to implement its nuclear related commitments under the JCPOA," Kirby said.
"I’m not asking about the IAEA, which doesn’t really have an intelligence capacity," the reporter said. "I’m asking specifically about whether Iran has sought to procure equipment for its nuclear program that it shouldn’t.
"I’ve answered the question," Kirby said.
"No, you said, whoa," the reporter said.
"Yes, I have," Kirby said.
"I asked if they have sought, and you have, which is specifically it talks about in that German intelligence report that it tried a variety of ways to get stuff it’s not supposed to have. And you’re just saying we don’t know of, we have no information of whether they got it or not."
Kirby then said that living up to the nuclear deal means not procuring illicit nuclear technology, but disagreed with reporters that Iran’s attempts to obtain this equipment would be in violation of the agreement.