U.S. officials reported modest progress in talks in Vienna, but warned that nuclear progress would soon become irreversible.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said it would only be “a few weeks” to salvage the 2015 Iran nuclear deal before progress in Tehran would become irreversible.
Blinken spoke on Thursday as Tehran continued talks in Vienna with other signatories to the 2015 deal, which former U.S. President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from in 2018.
The U.S. has been indirectly involved in negotiations with Washington and Tehran, despite rhetoric over trade allegations, recent reports Moderate gains After months of almost complete stalemate. The latest round of negotiations resumed in November.
“I think we still have a couple of weeks to see if we can get back to mutual compliance,” Blinken said in an interview with NPR.
“Our time is very, very short,” because “Iran is getting closer and closer that they can produce enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon in a very, very short time,” he said.
Blinken added that Tehran has achieved “what will become getting harder Reverse because they’re learning things, they’re doing new things because they’ve breached the limits set by the protocol.”
The nuclear deal provided Iran with much-needed international sanctions relief in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear program.
Tehran has since increasingly disregarded the restrictions in the deal after Trump re-imposed a campaign of “maximum pressure” sanctions after withdrawing from the deal, arguing that it is no longer bound by the deal after the U.S. withdrew.
U.S. President Joe Biden has made returning to the deal a top priority, while newly elected Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi is eager to seek relief from tough sanctions despite taking a more hawkish stance than his predecessor. relief.
in a interview In early January, Iranian Foreign Minister Hussein Amir-Abdallahian told Al Jazeera that the agreement could be reinstated if “all forms of sanctions stipulated in the nuclear deal” were lifted – a marked softening The government’s previous calls for a complete lifting were among all sanctions, even those based on human rights.
On Thursday, Blinken said reinstating the agreement “would be the best outcome for American security.”
“But if we can’t do that, we’re looking for other steps, other options, with our allies, including in Europe and the Middle East,” he added.
Those ones”other options“—often seen as an implied threat of military action—has been “the subject of intense work over the past few weeks and months,” Blinken said.
“We’re ready for any course.”