World

'Clerical error' — U.S. walks back claim Iran 'has' nuclear arms program

AP

“Has” or “had”? Earlier this week the White House quietly walked back a charge that Iran maintains an active nuclear weapons program, saying it really meant that Iran had one before the 2015 nuclear agreement.

A statement sent to reporters Monday by Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that a cache of Iranian documents released by Israel is “consistent with what the United States has long known: Iran has a robust, clandestine nuclear weapons program.”

But intelligence agencies in the U.S. and overseas have stated that the 2015 nuclear deal has frozen Iran’s nuclear program.

The version of Sanders’ statement posted to the White House website was later modified to make clear that Iran “had” such a program. The White House is calling the events a “clerical error.”

Earlier Monday evening, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the Iranian documents obtained by Israel showed that Iran had lied about its pursuit of nuclear weapons and that its deception undercuts the international nuclear deal it signed in 2015.

President Donald Trump has been a fierce critic of the 2015 nuclear deal and is weighing pulling the U.S. out of the agreement. He is expected to unveil his decision by May 12.

Iran has denied ever seeking nuclear weapons.