Asharq Al-awsat English https://aawsat.com/english Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper http://feedly.com/icon.svg

US Alarmed by Iran’s Progress in Uranium Enrichment

US Alarmed by Iran’s Progress in Uranium Enrichment

Wednesday, 6 July, 2022 - 06:45
US Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley at a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations in Washington, DC, the United States, on May 25, 2022. (AFP)

Iran has made alarming progress on enriching uranium, the US envoy for talks on reinstating the 2015 nuclear deal said on Tuesday.


Under the nuclear pact, Tehran limited its uranium enrichment program, a potential pathway to nuclear weapons, though Iran says it seeks only civilian atomic energy.


Then-US President Donald Trump abandoned the deal in 2018, calling it too soft on Iran, and reimposed harsh US sanctions, spurring Tehran to breach nuclear limits in the pact.


Now, Tehran is much closer to having enough fissile material for a nuclear bomb, US Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley said, though they do not appear to have resumed their weaponization program.


“But we are of course alarmed, as are our partners, about the progress they've made in the enrichment field,” the US top negotiator said in an interview with the National Public Radio.


Iran has enough highly enriched uranium on hand to make a bomb and could do so in a matter of weeks, he warned.


Meanwhile, Malley said Iranian negotiators rejected last week in Doha “very detailed outlines” of what the European Union, as a coordinator, thought a fair outcome would be.


He said the proposal set a timeline by which Iran could come back into compliance with the nuclear deal and Washington could ease sanctions on Tehran, stressing that the US was prepared to take that deal.


Indirect talks between Tehran and Washington aimed at breaking an impasse over how to salvage the pact ended in Doha, Qatar, last week without the hoped-for progress.


Malley described those talks as “more than a little bit of a wasted occasion.”


“They have, including in Doha, added demands that I think anyone looking at this would be viewed as having nothing to do with the nuclear deal, things that they've wanted in the past,” he revealed.


The demands included some that the United States and Europeans have said could not be part of negotiations.


“The discussion that really needs to take place right now is not so much between us and Iran, although we're prepared to have that. It's between Iran and itself,” Malley said.


“They need to come to a conclusion about whether they are now prepared to come back into compliance with the deal.”


The nuclear pact seemed near revival in March but 11 months of talks between Tehran and major powers in Vienna were thrown into disarray chiefly over Tehran's insistence that Washington remove the Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), its elite security force, from the US Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO) list.


Editor Picks

Multimedia