State Department walks back comments hinting at Iran deal concession

Updated 4:59 PM EDT, Wed June 17, 2015
03:35 - Source: CNN
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The State Department on Wednesday attempted to walk back comments signaling that the West was likely to drop a key component of its demands for a deal with Iran on its nuclear program.

Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday that the final agreement most likely wouldn’t require the country to detail suspected past efforts to develop a nuclear weapon, a concession sought by Tehran.

“We are not fixated on Iran specifically accounting for what they did at one point in time or another,” Kerry said.

READ: Iran talks may continue past deadline

On Wednesday, South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham, who serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Kerry had reached out personally to assure him that he was not backing off requiring Iran to acknowledge past efforts to develop nuclear weapons as part of any overall nuclear agreement.

“I just got off the phone with him, and he indicated to me the possible military dimensions of the program in terms of the Iranians’ past behavior is very much on the table and essential to the agreement,” Graham said.

State Department spokesman John Kirby also stressed to reporters that there wasn’t “any kind of concession or change in the policy. It’s just simply not true.”

Instead, he said, “the sanctions lifting will only occur as Iran takes the steps agreed, including addressing possible military dimensions.”

But he added, “We’ve said we’re not looking for a confession (from Iran); we’ve already made judgments about the past.”