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US Eyeing “Other Options” as Time Runs Out for Iran Deal

January 14, 2022

by: Kate Norman

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The Palais Coburg, where the Vienna talks are taking place

Friday, 14 January 2022 | As the floundering talks in Vienna trudge on and the clock continues to tick—all while Iran makes leaps and bounds in its nuclear development—Washington has warned it is looking at “other options” if the negotiations fail altogether.

The ongoing talks in Vienna between the US, world powers and Iran to return to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) have only yielded “modest” progress, a US official said a few weeks ago.

After former US President Donald Trump exited the deal in 2018, Iran began openly defying its restrictions a year later, and has continued bucking its constraints since then. Every day, as the talks drone on with little to show for it, centrifuges continue spinning in Iran, enriching uranium to higher and higher purity.

“We have, I think, a few weeks left to see if we can get back to mutual compliance,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told NPR radio on Thursday.

“We’re very, very short on time,” Blinken said, as “Iran is getting closer and closer and closer to the point where they could produce on very, very short order enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon.”

Iran has reportedly already reached over 60% purity of its uranium. It only needs to reach 90% to achieve a nuclear weapon.

And the more Iran’s nuclear development progresses, the harder it is to return to a nuclear deal—and the more irrelevant a deal becomes.

In the meantime, Iran’s advances “will become increasingly hard to reverse because they’re learning things, they’re doing new things as a result of having broken out of their constraints under the agreement,” Blinken said.

And Iran has essentially been free to work on its nuclear development as the talks drag on in Vienna. The discussions began last year, but halted in June when Iran elected its new hardliner president, Ebrahim Raisi, nicknamed the “Butcher of Tehran.”

The talks started again in November but have yielded little progress.

Negotiating a deal “would be the best result for America’s security,” Blinken added. “But if we can’t, we are looking at other steps, other options.”

Israel in the past has vehemently opposed any return to the nuclear deal. However, the messages have been slightly mixed in the past few weeks. The head of the Israeli military intelligence said earlier this month that returning to the deal would be better for Israel than a deadlock in the talks, resulting in an unleashed nuclear Iran.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, however, declared this week that Israel is not bound to any potential agreements that may arise out of the ongoing talks.

And putting its money and resources where its mouth is, the Jewish state has been ramping up its military over the past months in terms of budget, training and updating equipment if Israel needs to intervene against Iran’s nuclear development alone.

“We are dealing day and night with Iran and its malign activity,” Bennett told a Knesset (Parliament) committee this week. “We are shifting to a concept of consistent offense and not just consistent defense.”

Posted on January 14, 2022

Source: (Bridges for Peace, January 14, 2022)

Photo Credit: Gryffindor/Commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

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