WASHINGTON – The United States and its European allies appear on the cusp of reviving an agreement to limit Iran’s nuclear program, Biden administration officials said on Monday, but warned that the government now New Yorkers in Tehran will decide whether, after months of negotiations, they are willing to dismantle much of their nuclear production equipment in return for sanctions.
Speaking to reporters in Washington, a senior State Department official signaled that negotiators were ready to accept broad outlines of a deal following discussions last week in Washington. Vienna. It would essentially go back to the 2015 agreement that President Donald J. Trump scrapped four years ago, in the face of objections from many of his key advisers. In the end, that freed Iran to resume nuclear production, in some cases enriching nuclear fuel to levels much closer to what is needed to build a nuclear weapon.
Administration officials warn that it remains unclear whether a final deal will be signed and that in Iran, that decision will rest with the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. But the State Department official said that “we can see the path to an agreement if those decisions are made and if they are done quickly.”
“Now is the time for Iran to decide if it is prepared to make those decisions,” the official said. A second senior administration official also said negotiations had reached a decision-making stage. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the negotiations.
For President Biden, reinstating the deal – and with it the limits on Iran’s manufacturing capabilities – will fulfill a major campaign promise and fix the breach Mr. out with Great Britain, France, Germany and the European Union, which were part of the original agreement. with Russia and China. But it also comes with significant political risks.
No Republicans voted for the deal in 2015, and reinstating it will almost certainly become a campaign issue in the midterms. Like the original deal, the new deal will not limit Iran’s missile development, the senior official said. Nor will it prevent Tehran’s support of terrorist groups or its proxies, which have stirred unrest across the Middle East, as do some Democrats and nearly all parties. requested by the Republican.
Despite those shortcomings, Mr. Biden is ready to go back to the 2015 agreement and “make the political decisions necessary to achieve that goal,” the senior State Department official said.
And while US officials gave no details, reinstating the old deal means all limits on Iran’s production of nuclear material will still expire in 2030. Last year, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken stated that after restoring the old agreement, the United States would seek one “longer and stronger.” But Iranian officials have denied that idea.
The State Department official said that negotiations to restore the 2015 agreement were “in the final stages” and that “all parties” needed to commit to a return to full compliance. In fact, the United States violated the original accord first, when it withdrew and re-imposed sanctions against Iran. Mr. Trump then added hundreds of additional sanctions, and it is unclear how the negotiations currently underway will resolve it.
In Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi, the former head of the country’s Atomic Energy Organization and a key player in the initial negotiations, told an energy conference that “it looks like the nuclear negotiations will achieve the final result that we have noted. according to the Iranian news.
After nearly two years of trying to convince European leaders to resist US sanctions, Iran has begun to violate the agreement, denying inspectors access to key facilities and ramping up nuclear enrichment. core.
While it has not amassed the same amount of enriched uranium as it held before the 2015 deal, it has refined some of its new stockpile down to 60% – close to the 90% enrichment used. used to produce nuclear weapons. Previously, Iran capped its enrichment at 20%.
Rafael Grossi, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations agency that inspects Iran’s production facilities and verifies compliance with the agreements: “A country enriches at 60% is a very serious thing. “Only bomb-making countries can reach this level.”
Iran has resisted phasing out that 60%-enriched fuel. It is unclear how it will be disposed of, or whether it will be shipped to another country, perhaps Russia, which has taken Iran’s previous stockpile.
When Mr. Trump walked out of the original deal in 2018 – which he called the “worst deal ever” – he promised to force Tehran into new negotiations, saying he would get it. better terms and also ceased its support for the Syrian regime. terrorist groups and its missile tests. But he never brought them back to the negotiating table.
Instead, Iran has doubled down on its nuclear and military activities in the region, while evading sanctions by smuggling oil to key customers – including China – to keep its economy growing while the Trump administration leaves office.
New government of President Ebrahim Raisi rejected their predecessors, arguing that they were unable to lift sanctions even after Iran shipped 97 percent of nuclear fuel out of the country. And for months, it left American negotiators – whom they refused to meet in person – uncertain whether the new leadership would attempt to re-establish the old agreement. Over time, however, economic pressure on Iran has increased.
Understanding the Iran Nuclear Deal
A return to the accord, however, is sure to anger Iran hardliners, who have warned that the United States could give up again once Mr Biden is no longer president. They sought a written assurance that the United States would never walk away from the deal, something Mr. Biden said he could not provide.
Mr. Biden’s biggest political hole now may be in reinstating the old deal, at best he buys an eight-year grace period.
“You are ahead of the program of the show; Dennis B. Ross, a longtime Middle East negotiator who oversaw Iran policy at the Obama White House, said. “It’s not going away – it’s being delayed.”
However, Mr. Ross said the agreement helped prevent a nuclear arms race in the region.
One key issue is how Israel will respond. It continued its campaign of sabotage against Iranian facilities, blowing up some of them and by the end of the Trump administration, Scientist Assassination who led what US and Israeli intelligence believe was an Iranian bomb design project. But no intelligence agency has provided public evidence that the project has resumed significantly since it was suspended in 2003.
On Monday, ardent critics of the 2015 agreement – and by extending the time back to it – vowed to overturn it when a Republican president returns to the White House.
“Any nuclear deal would allow Iran to take the path of patience toward nuclear weapons as key restrictions expire and dozens of them,” said Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for Defense. billions of dollars flowed into the regime’s coffers to finance its destructive activities.” of the Democratic Party, a Washington consultant who has worked with several administrations on Iran policy.
“As power shifts in Washington, Republicans will reimpose all sanctions and take America away from what they see as a severely flawed deal,” he said.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/31/us/politics/iran-nuclear-deal-biden.html Officials say US and its allies are about to reinstate nuclear deal with Iran