The United States and Israel have warned that they are exploring a “plan B” to deal with Iran if Tehran does not return in good faith to negotiations to save the 2015 nuclear deal.
As talks to revive the deal stalled, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday that the window for the Islamic Republic to return to the deal was closing.
“Time is running out,” he said at a joint press conference with Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid. “We are prepared to look to other options if Iran does not change course, and these consultations with our allies and partners are part of it.
“We will look at all options to meet the challenge posed by Iran,” Blinken said. “And we continue to believe that diplomacy is the most effective way to do this. But, it takes two to engage in diplomacy, and we haven’t seen Iran’s willingness to do so at this point. “
He did not develop, but Lapid, without being contradicted, said of Blinken’s comments: “If a terrorist regime wants to acquire a nuclear weapon, we must act. We must make it clear that the civilized world will not allow this.
Earlier Wednesday, U.S. Special Envoy Robert Malley said Iran was sending signals daily that it may already have rejected a return to talks, forcing the U.S. and European powers to consider all other options.
The US warnings came as EU chief negotiator Enrique Mora travels to Iran with a message that the talks are in deep crisis, in the latest attempt to convince Tehran to resume talks. A European diplomat said: “It is now up to Iran to unambiguously declare its intention and explain its choice to the international community and to its own citizens.
Malley will travel to the Middle East in the coming days to consult on how the United States and its allies will respond if they decide it is necessary to end talks to reinstate the 2015 agreement limiting the nuclear program. Iranian.
Iran has so far said it will return “soon” to the Vienna talks which ended in June when Hassan Rouhani resigned as president, replaced in an election by radical Ebrahim Raisi.
New Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-abdollahian declined to set a new date for resuming talks, saying Iran needs time to review progress and appoint a new team of negotiators.
US officials believe they cannot wait indefinitely as Iran develops irreversible nuclear knowledge, bringing it closer to the ability to build a nuclear weapon. It built up a stockpile of highly enriched 60% uranium, experimented with 20% uranium metal fuel, restricted UN nuclear inspections, developed 1,500 advanced centrifuges capable of producing uranium and said it will use advanced centrifuges at its Fordow site.
Israel, which has shown no reluctance to bomb Iranian nuclear facilities in the past, has pressed the United States to recognize that Tehran’s new regime is ideologically opposed to the nuclear deal known as the JCPOA. .
Russia is also urging Iran to quickly resume talks and not try to undo the progress made in the first round of talks.
Malley said: “Iran knows that the United States is ready to return to the Common Comprehensive Plan of Action and quickly lift all sanctions inconsistent with the JCPOA, if Iran is ready to comply again.”
He added that the United States was ready to lift further sanctions if separate follow-up talks could reach agreement on Iranian regional behavior and update restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program that went beyond the terms of the 2015 agreement.
He said the two sides had made progress in talks in Vienna, but it was now open whether the Raisi administration had rejected the deal.
Mora will demand that the UN nuclear weapons watchdog, the IAEA, be invited in the following days to Iran for previously scheduled talks to discuss how to continue monitoring nuclear sites. The restrictions on the IAEA’s work are of unprecedented concern, Mora’s team said.