Iran: Expert warns ‘time is running out’ to stop uranium enrichment
Bardia Afshin, journalist and analyst at Iran International TV, has warned that the clock is ticking on Western intervention to prevent the Iranian regime from acquiring a powerful nuclear weapons stockpile. Tehran announced plans to accelerate the country’s programme of uranium enrichment at the beginning of the year. US President Joe Biden is sensitive to the threat of a regional war with Iran and his Administration has stated a desire to revisit the nuclear deal reached in 2015 but later torn up by Donald Trump.
Mr Afshin explained that the window of opportunity for an agreement over Iran’s nuclear programme is closing as hardliners and moderates within the country compete for power and influence over negotiations with the West.
The Iranian insider said: “Within the Iranian regime there are still so-called moderates in office but time is running out.
“At the same time, hardline elements are running the country by practice, therefore we might get these two mixed messages.
“Ramping up uranium enrichment in order to show the superpowers that they might have the ability to build a nuclear weapon.”
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However, he said President Biden could yet convince elements within Tehran to sit down and reach a compromise that avoided further conflict.
Mr Afshin said: “At the same time those so-called moderates they might not be really dominant in Iranian policies,
“But at the same time, they might tackle these hardliners, those forces within the Iranian regime to force them to think there may be a chance sit down with Western governments, with this new administration which came into power at the White House.”
The analyst’s comments come as Iran and the US hit a stalemate over their joint return to the Iran nuclear deal, placing the EU in the middle.
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The JCPOA is a 2015 international agreement between the US, Iran, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the UK.
The deal aims to curb Iran’s development of nuclear weapons by placing restrictions on enriched uranium development. In return, international sanctions on Iran are lifted.
However, former US President Donald Trump controversially pulled the US out of the deal in 2018, claiming Iran was building a nuclear program anyway.
The former president then re-imposed sanctions on Iran. As such, Iran began violating its terms of the deal.
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Iran remains a participant of the JCPOA and says it will begin complying with it again if sanction relief is put back in place.
Joe Biden is said to support a US return to the deal, but this week his team rejected a proposal by Iran to allow the EU to supervise that return.
The European Union has now said it is working with Joe Biden’s administration to find a way of lifting the restrictions against Iran so that a return to the deal can be organised.
Peter Stano, a spokesman for Josep Borrell, the EU’s Foreign Policy Chief, said: “We’re talking to the American administration to see if those sanctions could be lifted, to see if we can have full implementation of the JCPOA,” France24 reports.
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