Tweets of the Day: Marie Harf slam-dunks critics of Obama’s Iran policy

Tweets of the Day: Marie Harf slam-dunks critics of Obama’s Iran policy

One of the joys of the Obama administration is its hip, savvy web and social media presence.  The president has used Twitter a number of times to bestow on others – people, national monuments – the honor of being commemorated with images of him.  (See here and here, among others.)  He also performed in a social-media video – of himself, snapping selfies in the White House – as a way of encouraging social-media mavens to visit the Obamacare website, something no other high public official has done, as far as we’re aware.

Then there was Michelle Obama’s unforgettable tweet in May 2014, urging the Nigerian terrorist gang Boko Haram to #BringBackOurGirls.

As a foreign policy measure, that worked about as well as former State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki posing in March 2014 for a Twitter selfie, with a sign reading #UnitedForUkraine.  Her alternate, Marie Harf, posed with a similar sign at the time.

Now Marie Harf is back, smacking down a mildly critical article in the New York Times about a looming problem with Iran’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium (LEU at 3.5% purity), and the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) undertaken in November 2013 as the basis for continued negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program.

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The gist of the concern is that the Iranian stockpile has grown 20% since the JPOA was agreed on.  This is a problem partly because it indicates non-compliance with the JPOA, under which Iran’s stockpile was supposed to be frozen.

But it’s also a significant problem because it’s not clear how Iran will be able to comply, on a meaningful timetable, with the stockpile allowance under a long-term deal.  Iran is supposed to get down to an LEU stockpile of 300 kg, and keep it there.  When IAEA completed its most recent inspection, Iran had 8,714 kg of LEU stock in uranium hexafluoride gas form (the form in which it is fed into centrifuge arrays for enrichment).

Iran thus has to convert to other forms, and/or render non-weaponizable, 96% of her current LEU stockpile in order to comply with the terms of the proposed final “agreement.”*  Yet Iran has spent the last 18 months enlarging this stockpile, and has claimed technical difficulties with her plan to turn much of the stockpile into fuel elements for nuclear reactors.

An administration official reportedly acknowledged the issue:

“How are they going to do it?” one senior American official said recently when asked about the negotiations, details of which Mr. Kerry and his team are trying to keep confidential. “We’re not certain. It’s their problem, not ours. But it’s a problem.”

The Institute for Science and International Security, moreover, in its analysis of the latest IAEA report, repeated its warning from April 2015 that Iran still has a substantial stockpile of uranium hexafluoride, in oxide form, enriched to the higher 19.75% purity.  Although it would require re-conversion to be enriched further as weapons-grade material, doing that would more than double Iran’s post-“agreement” stockpile of LEU.

The warning about these real problems came to a head with the NYT article on Monday.  Reporters at the State Department’s daily briefing taxed Marie Harf with it; she described the State Department as “perplexed” by it, claiming that the article’s “main contentions are totally inaccurate.”  But she proceeded to both misidentify and misstate one of these “main contentions” in her explanation:

“First, the notion in the story that western officials or U.S. officials involved were unaware of this issue or not understanding of what this entails is just absurd,” Harf said.

The article doesn’t say any such thing, so Harf is just arguing against a straw man here.  Her other comments shed no additional light on the issue.  She merely alludes to Iran’s “commitment” to reducing the LEU stockpile to 300 kg.

“What matters is that they [Iran] have committed already, and we said publicly to reducing their stockpile whenever this implemented 300 kilograms,” Harf said. “The notion that this is some big issue of concern of negotiation is more manufacturing a controversy than actual reality. Everyone who read that story this morning was totally perplexed by it.”

But forget the complete absence of substantiation and proof in that pronouncement.  The real question is: If you can’t believe Marie Harf, whom can you believe?

In the Team Obama tradition, she took to Twitter today to produce your Tweets of the Day. (H/t: The Israel Project)  Each one is a pearl of great price, in its own way.









Q.E.D.   Take a good look, folks.  This is how you do the Smart Power.


* Since it can’t actually be an “agreement,” in the normal sense of the word – there is no prospect of Iran complying with it, and it’s quite possible that it will be proclaimed by the Obama administration regardless of whether Iran has even ostensibly “agreed” to it – we call it Petunia on these boards.

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer is a retired Naval Intelligence officer who lives in Southern California, blogging as The Optimistic Conservative for domestic tranquility and world peace. Her articles have appeared at Hot Air, Commentary’s Contentions, Patheos, The Daily Caller, The Jewish Press, and The Weekly Standard.


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