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  • MS HARF: Good afternoon. Welcome to a Friday daily press briefing. I have a few items at

  • the top, and then I will turn it over to you, Matt, in your summer jacket, which I like.

  • QUESTION: Thank you.

  • MS HARF: On Libya, the United States welcomes today’s announcement that the UN-facilitated

  • Libyan political dialogue will resume again on June 8th in Morocco. Libya’s crisis can

  • only be solved through a political, not a military solution. Libyan stakeholders participating

  • in the UN dialogue are working to preserve Libya’s sovereignty and territorial integrity

  • as they finalize discussions on a draft political agreement that will form a national unity

  • government. We commend the efforts of the United Nations and Special Representative

  • to the Secretary-General Bernardino Leon in facilitating these discussions.

  • In support of these talks, Deputy Secretary Blinken spoke this morning to Libyan House

  • of Representatives President Aguila Saleh Issa and Nouri Abusahmain of the former General

  • National Congress. Blinken highlighted our strong support for both groupsdecisions

  • to attend the upcoming political dialogue and urged their support of the finalized political

  • agreement and the establishment of a new national unity government as soon as possible. All

  • Libyans will benefit from the end of the military conflict and increased security and stability.

  • A strong, unified government will, again, be the best defense against any terrorist

  • threat which is taking advantage of the current political environment.

  • A couple more items, guys. Thanks for hanging with me here.

  • On Macedonia, Deputy Secretary Blinken met this morning as well with EU Commissioner

  • Hahn to discuss the recent EU Eastern Partnership Summit in Riga and EU policy to the east,

  • particularly focusing on Ukraine, Georgia, Serbia, Macedonia, Bosnia, and Moldova. With

  • respect to Macedonia, the deputy secretary welcomed Commissioner Hahn’s successful

  • mediation efforts earlier this week and praised Macedonia’s government and opposition leaders

  • for reaffirming on June 2nd their commitment to Euro-Atlantic principals, interethnic relations,

  • and good neighborly relations and good neighborly relations in preparation for early elections

  • by the end of April 2016. The deputy secretary underscores that while the path forward will

  • not be easy for Macedonia, the United States together with our European partners will be

  • actively engaged to support Macedonia in meeting these challenges and ultimately the goal of

  • Euro-Atlantic integration.

  • Two more quick things, and then I promise the floor is yours, Matt.

  • An update on Secretary Kerry: Secretary Kerry continues to recover in Massachusetts General

  • Hospital in Boston. His doctors feel he is on schedule with his recovery, which is proceeding

  • normally if not better than expected. He has been exercising, walking several times yesterday

  • and again today, and also resting though, and letting his broken bone heal. He plans

  • to take advantage of the weekend to continue this routine and then make decisions about

  • the days ahead. This morning he has already spoken with National Security Advisor Susan

  • Rice, received briefings from Chief of Staff John Finer, Counselor Tom Shannon. I believe

  • if he hasn’t already, he will be speaking again with Under Secretary of State Wendy

  • Sherman, who you all know is in Vienna continuing the Iran negotiations.

  • And then the last item at the top, which is more of a personal item, I think as many of

  • you know, I started my new position on Monday as senior advisor on strategic communications

  • to Secretary Kerry. That’s focused on big strategic priorities and most importantly,

  • of course, the Iran negotiation. So it’s time to get to work on that, so today will

  • be my last briefing at this podium after about two years, just about two years. And it’s

  • been an exciting, interesting two years if you think the Iran talks were still in the

  • secret channel when I started this, Cuba policy was, what, decades --

  • QUESTION: Also in a secret channel?

  • MS HARF: Also on a secret channel, that is true. Good point, James Rosen. Russian tanks

  • weren’t in eastern Ukraine, and also just sort of the daily business of diplomacy. So

  • given all that’s going on, that’s why we do this every day, why I know you do this

  • every day as wellthe only podium who briefs every day no matter where the Secretary

  • isand I appreciate the last two years. It’s been fun, it’s been interesting,

  • it’s been, at times, very difficult for all the issues we all cover and face. So with

  • that I won’t get too emotional, but thank you, and well do a good briefing today.

  • Well make it a good one to go out on.

  • QUESTION: Well try.

  • MS HARF: And Jeff will be briefing next week, and then John and Mark as soon as theyre

  • ready will be up here as well.

  • QUESTION: Right.

  • MS HARF: And there have been things like the lights going off. You remember when the podium

  • broke. Weve had some interesting times in the last two years.

  • QUESTION: Yes. Yes, we have. It certainly is the end of an era.

  • MS HARF: It is.

  • QUESTION: I’m not sure what era it will be called. Well leave that to --

  • MS HARF: The Psaki and Harf --

  • QUESTION: -- historians and internet philosophers. But thank you --

  • MS HARF: Philosophers is a nice word for them.

  • QUESTION: -- for showing up every day and doing what you did.

  • MS HARF: It’s been fun.

  • QUESTION: It – I’m not sure that youreis that an honest assessment of it being

  • fun?

  • MS HARF: Yes.

  • QUESTION: The spokesperson who launched a thousand memes, your Twitter legions of fans

  • and foes I’m sure will be --

  • MS HARF: I’m sure they will miss --

  • QUESTION: -- disappointed in your --

  • MS HARF: -- will miss it.

  • QUESTION: But anyway, we will --

  • MS HARF: But well still all be talking on these issues. Well also be working together.

  • Youll still all be coming to me for questions on things. It will just be not at the podium.

  • And so it’s been a long and interesting and important few years. So thank you all.

  • QUESTION: We will certainly miss you. Right. Getting down to business.

  • MS HARF: Getting down to business.

  • QUESTION: I’m touched by that display of emotion on your part by the way. (Laughter.)

  • MS HARF: For Matt, that’s actually – (laughter) – that’s actually, guys --

  • QUESTION: That was effusive. (Laughter.)

  • QUESTION: Well, I don’t know, James. Would you like to say a word or two?

  • QUESTION: I think I speak for everyone who is a regular in this room, which I can’t

  • even include myself in that grouping, in saying that we all appreciated the grasp of the issues

  • and the passion and conviction you brought to your defense of this Administration and

  • your engagement with us.

  • MS HARF: Thank you.

  • QUESTION: And to the extent there was very harsh criticism, only some small measure was

  • probably self-inflicted – (laughter) – and it tended not to come from people who dealt

  • with you on a regular basis.

  • MS HARF: Thank you. Thank you. I appreciate that.

  • QUESTION: Arshad.

  • QUESTION: I’d like to say one thing. Best of luck.

  • MS HARF: Thank you. Thank you.

  • QUESTION: And thankswell, thanks for your late night endeavors. I know that a lot

  • of this stuff had been going on late into the night, and youve taken our emails and

  • MS HARF: That’s true.

  • QUESTION: -- responded, and we appreciate that.

  • MS HARF: Thank you. Well, look, in some respects youre coveringwe all care about the

  • same issues. Were coming from itfrom a different perspective, but were all doing

  • this so the American people and the world knows what we do in this building. So with

  • that, let’s get down to business.

  • QUESTION: Right. So --

  • MS HARF: Ask a good first question, Matt. Come on.

  • QUESTION: Well, I’m afraid it’s not particularly good.

  • MS HARF: No pressure.

  • QUESTION: But it isit is an important question.

  • MS HARF: Okay.

  • QUESTION: And itbut it goes back to this IAEA report and the Iran and the --

  • MS HARF: What better place to start today?

  • QUESTION: Yes. And the uranium. So I don’t know if youve seen this two-page thing

  • that ISIS --

  • MS HARF: David Albright?

  • QUESTION: Yes.

  • MS HARF: Yes.

  • QUESTION: The good ISIS.

  • MS HARF: The good ISIS, yes. I actually have it right here.

  • QUESTION: Okay. So --

  • MS HARF: I briefly looked at it earlier.

  • QUESTION: Okay. Well, the main point other than the stuff about shooting messengers is

  • not going to make the issue go away, blah, blah, blah --

  • MS HARF: Right.

  • QUESTION: That the crux of this is that they say, as they were cited in this story that

  • you took issue with, that they are skeptical about whether Iran is actually going to be

  • able to --

  • MS HARF: Correct.

  • QUESTION: -- take this problem, to deal with it. And --

  • MS HARF: Right, right. They say that sort of the notion that they have to get back down

  • there at a certain timethey sort of agree with many of things weve said. I think

  • theyre skeptical --

  • QUESTION: Right.

  • MS HARF: -- that Iran technically can do it.

  • QUESTION: But they say given the stridency of their criticisms, meaning this Administration’s

  • --

  • MS HARF: Meaning ours. Yes.

  • QUESTION: -- of those who have raised the oxidation issue, the State Department should

  • explain the basis for their confidence. Can you do that?

  • MS HARF: Well, again, as weve said, in both the original JPOA and in the first extension,

  • Iran converted enough of this material, this LEU, from uranium hexafluoride, the form that

  • it was in as it was produced in the centrifuges, to another chemical form such that Iran reduced

  • the overall stockpile back under the limit. The other chemical form of uranium is much

  • for difficult for Iran to use in a breakout scenario. Our experts anticipate Iran will

  • have no problem converting the excess uranium hexafluoride produced during the second extension

  • in the same way.

  • So again, we have seen them do this twice. The IAEA has taken note of this process before.

  • And we and our experts anticipate Iran won’t have challenges doing that. I understand that

  • David Albright is skeptical. And again, if were standing here on June 30th and Iran

  • hasn’t done it, then they would be in violation of the JPOA.

  • QUESTION: But can you explain the reasonis the basis for your confidenceis that

  • is your confidence based on the facton only the fact that theyve managed to do

  • it --

  • MS HARF: No -- to do it before.

  • QUESTION: -- before?

  • MS HARF: I think it’s based on two things, primarily. One is that they have done it before,

  • which shows that they know how to do it and theyre capable of doing it. And also, weve

  • had technical discussions at an expert level with them about this process, and that is

  • why our assessment is that we believe and anticipate they will be able to get back down

  • where they need to.

  • QUESTION: Okay. But I’m stillthat doesn’t really explain the – I mean, I can understand

  • why you would say that the basis for your confidence was that they have done it in the

  • MS HARF: In a process that’s been --

  • QUESTION: – that theyve managed to do it before.

  • MS HARF: -- outlined publicly.

  • QUESTION: But I don’t get the second part of why that’s – I mean, youre basically

  • taking them at their word that --

  • MS HARF: No, because --

  • QUESTION: No?

  • MS HARF: -- weve had technical discussions with them about how they are going about doing

  • this and will go about doing it. Theyve proven they can do it technically and from

  • a technological perspective. And I’m not exactly sure what the skepticism is on David

  • Albright’s side from a technical perspective. I’m happy to get one of our nuclear experts

  • to debate the finer points of this with him. But having talked to our team, the fact is

  • they know how to do this, theyve done it before. Were talking to them about the

  • current stockpile and how theyre going to get it down to the form that is acceptable

  • and the level that’s acceptable.

  • QUESTION: Wouldn’t it bewouldn’t it be in the best interests of the deal and

  • the Administration and the rest of the world who are watching thisthese negotiations

  • unfold if you were to be a little bit more skeptical of Iran’s intentions and abilities

  • in this?

  • MS HARF: Well, I’m – look, Matt, on this oneone issue, which is a – one smally

  • defined issue, rightthis isn’t about their intentions overall, this isn’t about

  • their capabilities overallon whether they can get down under 7,850[1], on that

  • very narrow issue, technically they know how to do it, technically theyve demonstrated

  • twice before that they can, and weve talked to them about how theyre going to. So it’s

  • not that we just take them at their word; weve seen their actions to do so. And again,

  • if they don’t, that will be a problem.

  • The bigger technical question when it comes to a final deal, rightthis a question

  • for JPOA implementation; this actually isn’t really a question for the final negotiations

  • is how they will get down to 300 kilograms. And so these are both important issues, but

  • theyre just a little separate, and the discussions are ongoing about how theyll

  • get down to 300 kilograms. There’s several ways they can do it. They can down-blend it,

  • they can ship it out of the country, they can sell it on the open market. But those

  • are two separate processes from getting down to [7,650]. That is something, quite frankly,

  • technically weve seen them do. We don’t have reason to think they won’t be able

  • to do it now when they could six months ago.

  • QUESTION: Can I follow on this?

  • MS HARF: Yes.

  • QUESTION: Can I go on this? Sorry. There’s just – I want to --

  • MS HARF: You can both ask questions about this.

  • QUESTION: Yeah. I want to concentrate on the process of turning it from the uranium hexafluoride

  • into the oxide.

  • MS HARF: Into the other chemical form. Mm-hmm.

  • QUESTION: Yeah. So what isyouin previous days this week you have said that

  • your experts fully understand why it is that Iran has notwhy it is that the amounts

  • have gone up and down --

  • MS HARF: Right, correct.

  • QUESTION: -- that the LEU has gone up and down. What ultimately is the reason for the

  • increasenot so much for the increase, but for their apparent inability or choice

  • not to convert the increased amounts of low enriched uranium into the other form?

  • MS HARF: Well, they are doing that. I think, again, going back to the IAEA report, it’s

  • a snapshot of its stockpile on one date. So it’s notthis isn’t stagnant. That

  • it’s not that they have an inability to convert it; in fact, they have been. And

  • weve seen thembecause in a basicvery basic level, the reason the stockpile goes

  • up and goes down is because they are allowed to enrich this very small stockpile and type

  • of uranium hexafluoride. And so this is the product of that. But under the JPOA they have

  • to convert it before the end of the time. And theyve been able to do that. Again,

  • I would not – I would venture to guess that the stockpile today probably isn’t the same

  • as it was on that snapshot and time the IAEA reported, and they have said publicly and

  • to us that by June 30th they will get where they need to be. And our experts anticipate

  • theyll be able to do so.

  • QUESTION: The question that I still don’t understand, though, isand I fully understand

  • that theyre allowed to enrich --

  • MS HARF: Right.

  • QUESTION: -- up to --

  • MS HARF: Right.

  • QUESTION: -- 5 percent, right?

  • MS HARF: Right.

  • QUESTION: And I fully understand that theyre under an obligation by the six monthly deadlines