The State Department on Monday insisted that Iran is still in compliance with its nuclear obligations as it and other countries try to negotiate an end to Iran's nuclear program, despite reports that Iran is buying materials needed to boost its production of plutonium.
"Iran has kept all of their commitments under the JPOA, we continue to believe that," State spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters, referring to the Joint Plan of Action negotiated by the U.S., Iran and others. Psaki acknowledged "concerns" State has with Iran, but said Iran is still in compliance.
Iran, led by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has reportedly cheated on its nuclear commitments, but the U.S. State Department says those reports are not true.
Image: AP Photo/Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader
That goes against a report in Foreign Policy Monday morning, which said the Obama administration privately believes Iran's purchases have put it out of compliance with the JPOA. That story noted that Secretary of State John Kerry has insisted publicly that Iran has "held up its end of the bargain," even though the U.S. wrote a brief noting that Iran has purchased material for its heavy water research reactor in Arak, and has helped move weapons to its allies in Syria and Iraq.
Many Republicans have criticized the administration's effort on Iran, especially its decision to extend the nuclear talks for another seven months. Republicans have said that delay will only give Iran more time to develop its nuclear program, and that more sanctions are needed immediately in order to stop that from happening.
The Foreign Policy story predicted that Republicans would further criticize the Obama administration for its private admission that Iran has violated the terms of the talks. And by Monday afternoon, a key House lawmaker did just that.
"The wheels seem to be coming off of the administration's Iran strategy," said House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.). "There are now multiple reports that Iran has violated its commitment to freeze its nuclear program. These include two separate reports that it was testing and operating centrifuges in violation of the interim agreement."
"And today's report is that Iran is trying to illicitly acquire components for its 'plutonium bomb factory' at Arak," he added. "This regime is proving to be a determined cheater, showing no willingness to accept an effective verification regime."
Royce added that despite these problems, the Obama administration's "optimistic talk goes on," and said it is "beyond time" for more sanctions.