The United States is alarmed by Iran’s progress towards obtaining an atomic weapon and hopes to resume talks to curb Tehran’s nuclear program soon, a senior official in Washington said on Tuesday.
Iran’s nuclear activity was also at the center of talks in Washington between the US and Israeli national security teams.
Israeli national security adviser Eyal Hulata and his White House counterpart Jake Sullivan joined a meeting of the US-Israel Strategic Advisory Group of Diplomatic, Military and Intelligence Agencies.
US President Joe Biden wants to overturn the decision of his predecessor Donald Trump to withdraw the United States from the 2015 agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions that have crippled the Iranian economy.
Talks in Vienna to revive the deal are stuck on whether Iran or the United States should take the first step. “The way to Vienna for negotiations remains open,” a senior official in the Biden administration said on Tuesday. “The Iranians are sending indications to a number of parties that they are preparing to return to Vienna and of course we will have to see if they re-engage in this process.”
Despite the skepticism of the Gulf states and Israel, the Biden administration is convinced “that the diplomatic route remains the best,” the official said.
However, the official said the White House and the new Israeli government have agreed that Iran has made rapid progress since Trump left the 2015 agreement and reinstated sanctions. “We have a common assessment of the extent to which Iran’s nuclear program has gone off the beaten track,” the official said.
âThe break-up time, which is enriched uranium stocks and other ways of looking at it, went from about 12 months to a period of a few months. So obviously this is quite alarming.
The official said the United States believed diplomacy would be “the best way to cap the program and roll back the gains Iran has made in recent years.” However, there has been no movement towards lifting US sanctions and if diplomacy fails, “there are other avenues.”
“We believe the responsibility currently lies with the Iranian side,” the official said.
Meanwhile, Iran has admitted that an Israeli sabotage attack in June on a uranium centrifuge workshop caused “serious damage”, after previously claiming it was foiled.
Tehran demanded that the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN nuclear watchdog, “clarify its position” on the attack on the Karaj power plant, about 50 km from Tehran.