| 20 April 2024, Saturday |

US warns that only ‘some weeks’ left to revive Iran nuclear deal

If Iran continues its nuclear activities at its current pace, there may only be “some weeks” left to revive the nuclear deal, said US negotiator Rob Malley
Speaking during an interview with CNN, Malley warned of a “period of escalating crisis” if diplomacy failed to restore the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers.
After a five-month hiatus, negotiations restarted in November, to try to restore the deal with Iran.
The United States had withdrawn from this agreement under former president Donald Trump in 2018. Now, the US is an indirect party to the talks.
While the Iran talks have been suspended, Malley said that he hopes the indirect talks will resume “relatively soon.”
Recently, Washington has also warned that it may soon be too late to revive the agreement.
“It really depends on the pace of their nuclear process,” said Malley, the US special envoy for Iran. “If they halt the nuclear advances, we have more time.”
“If they continue at their current pace, we have some weeks left but not much more than that, at which point the conclusion will be there’s no deal to be revived,” he said.
“At some point in a not-so-distant future we will have to conclude the JCPOA is no more and we would have to negotiate a wholly different deal and we would go through a period of escalating crisis,” he added.
The Iranian government claims it only wants to develop a civilian nuclear capability, but Western powers say its stockpile of uranium enriched goes far beyond that and could be used to develop a nuclear weapon.
In a statement on Tuesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that no deadline would be set for the negotiations.
“I’m not going to put a time limit on it,” Blinken told reporters, but the remaining runway for a deal is “getting very, very, very short.”
“We continue to have a strong interest in seeing if we can put the nuclear program back into the box that it was in,” he said. “But if we can’t do that, because Iran will not engage in good faith, then we are actively looking at alternatives and options.”
As part of the 2015 agreement, Iran was given relief from sanctions in exchange for curbing its nuclear program, which was put under intense UN monitoring.
Afterwards, Trump reintroduced sanctions, leading Tehran to violate the nuclear deal’s limits in 2019.
The negotiations have recently hit a snag over which sanctions Washington is willing to lift, and guarantees demanded by Iran to guard against a possible US withdrawal.