Mon. Jan 17th, 2022

U.S. officials report modest gains during talks in Vienna, but warn that nuclear progress will soon be irreversible.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says there are only a few weeks left to save the 2015 Iran nuclear deal before Tehran’s progress becomes too difficult to reverse.

Blinken spoke on Thursday as negotiations in Vienna between Tehran and the other signatories of the 2015 agreement, from which former US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew in 2018, continued.

The US indirectly participated in the talks, with Washington and Tehran, despite the handling of charged rhetoric, which recently reported modest profits after months of almost total stalemate. The latest round of talks resumed in November.

“We have, I think, a few weeks left to see if we can return to mutual compliance,” Blinken said in an interview with the American public radio station NPR.

“We have very, very little time,” because “Iran is getting closer to the point where it can produce enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon in very, very short order,” he said.

Blinken added that Tehran has made nuclear progress that “will be increasingly difficult to stop because they are learning things, they are doing new things because they have broken out of their constraints under the agreement ”.

The nuclear deal provided Iran with much-needed relief from international sanctions in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear program.

Trump reintroduced a “maximum pressure” sanctions campaign after withdrawing from the agreement, and Tehran has since increasingly disregarded the restrictions in the agreement, arguing that it is no longer binding on the agreement after the US withdrawal.

U.S. President Joe Biden has made the return to the deal a top priority, while newly elected Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi, despite holding tougher positions than his predecessor, is keen to find relief from crushing sanctions.

In a maintenance with Al Jazeera in early January, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said a return to the agreement could be achieved if “all forms of sanctions provided for in the nuclear deal” are lifted – an apparent mitigation of the government’s previous calls for a complete lifting of all sanctions, even those imposed on human rights.

Blinken said on Thursday that the revival of the agreement “will be the best result for America’s security”.

“But if we can not, we will look at other steps, other options” with allies, including in Europe and the Middle East, he added.

Those “other options“- which is often seen as an implicit threat of military action – was” also the subject of intense work in recent weeks and months “, Blinken said.

“We are prepared for any of the courses.”

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