The withdrawal in 2018 by then-President Donald Trump from the Iran nuclear deal, officially known as Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, has resulted in “a challenging situation,” said U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Instead of keeping Iran’s nuclear program “in a box . . . Iran has moved forward with its program in increasingly dangerous ways,” he noted in a recent interview. “We have to deal with that, and we are.”
Secretary Blinken emphasized the United States remains committed to seeing that Iran never acquires nuclear weapons. “We still believe that if we can get back in the weeks ahead -- not months ahead, weeks ahead -- to the JCPOA, the nuclear agreement, that would be the best thing for our security and the security of our allies and partners in the region.”
In recent weeks, the United States and Iran have agreed that modest progress has been made during the talks in Vienna, where a mutual return to the JCPOA by the United States and Iran is being negotiated between Iran and P5+1 countries -- Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and, indirectly, the United States.
Secretary Blinken warned, however, the time to complete the negotiations is becoming “very, very, short.”
In recent months, Iran has been enriching uranium to near weapons-grade level. “Iran is getting closer and closer to the point where they could produce on very, very short order enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon,” said Secretary Blinken. “And at the same time, they’re making advances that will become increasingly hard to reverse because they’re learning things, they’re doing new things as a result of having broken out of their constraints under the agreement.”
In case an agreement on a mutual return to the JCPOA is not reached in the coming weeks, Secretary of State Blinken said, the United States is working with its allies and partners in Europe, the Middle East and beyond on “other steps, other options . . . We’re prepared for either course,” he declared. “But it is clear that it would be far preferable for our security, for the security of allies and partners, if we can get a return to compliance.”