Iran Nuclear Talks: US May Use “Other Options” If Diplomacy Fails

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The US and its allies resume nuclear talks with Iran on Monday (29), not knowing how Tehran’s new government will approach the talks. The country said it was not optimistic about the prospects ahead and emphasized that if diplomacy fails, the US is “ready to use other options”.

The parties to the Joint Global Action Plan will meet again in Vienna after nearly six months to discuss a mutual return to the US-Iran deal, but the hiatus gave time for new obstacles to take root.

On Friday, Iran announced further advances in its uranium enrichment, which cuts the amount of time Tehran would need to develop a nuclear weapon if it so chooses, an announcement clearly intended to give Iran influence when it comes to Vienna for negotiations.

Other parties to the agreement – ​​including Germany, the UK, Britain, France, China and Russia – are joining the discussions asking that the talks continue where they left off. European sources told CNN who hope the Iranians will treat the meeting as a “first round”. US officials expressed similar concerns.

The newly elected hardliners government in Tehran will send a new set of negotiators to Vienna, who have emphasized the need for complete relief from US sanctions and non-compliance with the agreement, while US officials have said they have absolutely no plans to offer incentives to the Iran to talk.

‘The choice time is short’

And US government officials have repeatedly warned that if advances in Iran’s nuclear program and enrichment capability continue unabated, they could make the benefits of the JCPOA debatable — a development that would force investors USA to look for other options.

“We are still hopeful that diplomacy will find a way,” Brett McGurk, coordinator of the National Security Council for the Middle East and North Africa, told the Manama Dialogue organized by the International Institute for Strategic Studies. “But if we can’t find a way, we’re prepared to use other options.”

“There is no question, we are not going to allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon, period,” McGurk said. “And when it comes to military force to change behavior, that’s a pretty confusing goal for a military force. When it comes to military force to prevent a country from obtaining a nuclear weapon, that is a very achievable goal.”

US special envoy to Iran, Rob Malley, said in a tweet, after a Nov. 18 meeting with Middle Eastern allies and European parties to the deal, that Iran could choose one of two paths: “continuation of nuclear escalation and crisis or mutual return to the JCPOA, creating opportunities for regional economic and diplomatic relations. ”

“The choice time is short,” Malley wrote.

Sources familiar with the preparations for the talks say the parties were closely following the visit of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director Rafael Grossi to Tehran last week, seeing it as an indication of Iran’s approach to the negotiations in Vienna, sources said. Grossi told the IAEA board later that the negotiations were “inconclusive”.

One of the controversial issues that persist is that Iran is refusing IAEA inspectors to monitor access to the Karaj centrifuge production facility, which reports suggest operations have resumed.

“This is seriously affecting capacity [da AIEA] of restoring continuity of knowledge in the workshop. [Karaj], which was widely recognized as essential in relation to returning to the JCPOA,” Grossi said at a Board of Governors meeting on Wednesday.

The Arms Control Association noted that Iran’s refusal to allow the IAEA to install new cameras or confirm that production has not restarted could undermine attempts to revitalize the JCPOA and its strict verification regime if records cannot be completed. Iran’s nuclear program. Tehran’s refusal to grant access to Karaj has also sparked speculation and concern about what, exactly, Iran is doing, the ACA said.

‘No choice’

On Thursday, the US Mission for International Organizations in Vienna told the IAEA meeting that “if Iran’s non-cooperation is not immediately remedied … especially the restoration of continuity of knowledge in Karaj, the Board will have no choice but to to meet again in extraordinary session before the end of this year, in order to face the crisis.”

Meanwhile, on Friday, Iran announced that its 60% enriched uranium stockpile had grown to 66 pounds (30 kilograms) and its amount of 20% enriched uranium had also increased. Both levels are much closer to weapons uranium, which is enriched above 90%.
According to the Arms Control Association, enriching uranium to 20% “constitutes about 90% of the work needed to enrich to weapons level.”

As Iran’s stockpiles increase, the ACA says, its breakdown time, or the time it would take to produce enough enriched uranium for weaponry for a bomb, decreases. The ACA estimates that Iran’s current breakout time is likely to be about a month, down from the 12 months when the JCPOA was fully implemented.

Enrichment was limited by the JCPOA, which the US unilaterally left in May 2018 under former President Donald Trump. Iran restarted enrichment last year to pressure the US to ease sanctions.

‘A very uncertain proposition’

State Department spokesman Ned Price reflected the ambiguity surrounding the November 22 resumption of negotiations, calling mutual return to compliance with the JCPOA “a very uncertain proposition.”

The next day, Price told reporters in Washington that, “It is our hope that Iran’s new government will appear in Vienna and appear in Vienna ready to negotiate in good faith to build on the progress that has been made in the previous six rounds of negotiations.”

But he added that the US has “been very clear that we are not prepared to take unilateral steps solely for the benefit of shining the wheel” to keep the talks going. Former President Donald Trump pulled the US out of business in 2018.

Sources familiar with the preparations for the talks told CNN that the US and its allies are not at a point where they will begin offering Iran confidence-building measures, but an official said there is a possibility that the US and its allies might employ them on the road. As a result, Iran’s incentives will not be discussed at this week’s meetings in Vienna, where the US and allies will focus on simply measuring the temperature and trying to pick up where they left off months ago, US and European sources explained.

‘Plano B’

Everyone involved in the lectures is aware of the ticking of the clock. The sources told the CNN that there is still time to reach an agreement, but it will probably be over by the end of next year. For now, they said that there is still no hard and fast “Plan B”.

Critics of the deal say the Biden government has sacrificed influence by easing pressure on Iran as it develops its nuclear program.
“The Biden government’s policy on Iran is failing and without a significant course correction, that policy will result in Iranian nuclear weapons or a war to stop that development,” said Mark Dubowitz, CEO of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. Dubowitz argued that the government’s approach will allow Iran to rebuild itself towards a “lethal end state” with pathways to nuclear weapons and a robust nuclear infrastructure.

“Israel will have no choice but to use military force to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons before Tehran reaches this lethal end state,” Dubowitz said.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has made it clear that Israel will be prepared to act if necessary. Addressing delegates at a security conference near Tel Aviv on Tuesday, Bennett said that “if there is a return to the JCPOA, Israel is obviously not a party to the agreement and is not bound by it.”

Bennett complained that after the nuclear deal was signed in 2015, the “State of Israel simply fell asleep. We were busy with other things. Let’s learn from this mistake. We will maintain our freedom of action,” he said.

Western officials have tried to argue to Israelis that attacks on Israel’s nuclear program are not very helpful when the overall goal is to reach a comprehensive solution, and especially when the Iranians have accelerated their ability to rebuild after the attacks, sources familiar with the Israeli negotiations. Iran told the CNN.

Asked about these warnings, Price said, “Ultimately, the United States and Israel, we share a common goal, which is to ensure that Iran is verifiable and permanently barred from obtaining a nuclear weapon. And we continue to believe that diplomacy in coordination with our allies and partners – and that, of course, includes Israel – is the best way to achieve this goal.”

“We also make it very clear that this is not a process that can go on indefinitely and if the Iranians, through their actions or omissions, demonstrate or suggest that they lack that good faith, that they lack that clarity of purpose, we’ll have to resort to other means,” Price said on Tuesday. “We have a variety of other means that we are discussing with our allies and partners.”

diplomatic fog

In recent weeks, US officials have conducted a flurry of diplomacy with regional powers and other parties to the deal, working to form a united front.

President Joe Biden met with European partners to discuss Iran during the UK’s June G7 meetings. In recent weeks, Secretary of State Antony Blinken has also spoken with European allies, as well as China and Russia, about Iran. And Malley recently met with Gulf countries, Israeli officials and European partners at the JCPOA.

“I think the Iranians believe they have some option to the east with Russia and China where they can get around the pressure of sanctions,” McGurk said on Sunday. “And that’s just wrong. So, I think we are approaching negotiations at the end of November on a very united front with the P5+1.”

Andrew Carey da CNN in Israel and Mostafa Salem da CNN in Abu Dhabi contributed to this report.

(Text translated, read original in English here)

Reference: CNN Brasil

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