Iran nuclear deal effort is at ‘critical phase’, says U.S. envoy

European External Action Service (EEAS) Deputy Secretary General Enrique Mora and Iranian Deputy at Ministry of Foreign Affairs Abbas Araghchi wait for the start of a meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission in Vienna, Austria April 6, 2021. (Reuters)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — A U.S. envoy said on Monday efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran are at a “critical phase” and Tehran’s reasons for avoiding talks are wearing thin.

U.S. Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley said Washington was increasingly worried Tehran would keep delaying a return to talks, according to Reuters.

Malley added that the United States had other tools to keep Iran from developing a nuclear weapon and would use them if need be.

“We’re in a critical phase of the efforts to see whether we can revive the JCPOA,” Malley told reporters, referring to the deal formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

“We’ve had a hiatus of many months and the official reasons given by Iran for why we’re in this hiatus are wearing very thin,” he said.

Then-U.S. President Donald Trump abandoned the pact in 2018 and reimposed harsh U.S. sanctions. About a year later, Iran began violating some of the deal’s limits, including on uranium enrichment. Enriching uranium can provide a path to obtain the fissile material for an atomic bomb, an ambition Iran denies.

While saying the window for returning to the JCPOA will not be open forever because eventually Iran’s nuclear advances will have overtaken it, Malley said Washington would continue to look for diplomatic arrangements with Tehran.

“You can’t revive a dead corpse,” he said, stressing that the United States had not reached that point yet. “We will continue to pursue diplomacy, even as we pursue other steps if we face a world in which we need to do that.”

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