West Warns of 'Nightmare' if Iran Gets Nuclear Weapons

Henrietta Strickland
February 19, 2021

New US president Joe Biden has put his diplomatic faith in Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, who will be meeting virtually with his European counterparts to help forge a nuclear deal with Iran.

A Western diplomat told Asharq Al-Awsat that the United States administration was racing against time with the approaching February 21 deadline set by Iranian legislation, which allows Tehran to stop its voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Rafael Mariano Grossi - Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is preparing to fly to Iran to inspect the country's nuclear facilities, unless new restrictions imposed by Iran prevent it.

The former United States president withdrew the U.S. from the JCPoA in May 2018.

"The United States on Wednesday urged Tehran to reverse and refrain from steps harming its pledges under the accord".

European parties to the deal, which have called on Tehran not to halt snap inspections, will discuss the issue with the United States on Thursday, the French Foreign Ministry said.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was quick to hit back at the statement, saying Iranian breaches to the pact were merely a result of Washington's withdrawal from it.

Tehran has been using its violations of the nuclear deal to increase pressure on the JCPOA's remaining signatories, France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China, to provide additional incentives to Iran to offset the crippling American sanctions re-imposed after the U.S. pulled out of the agreement in 2018.

"These activities have no credible civil justification", the statement said.

Iran began breaching the deal in 2019 in response to a U.S. withdrawal from the deal under then-president Donald Trump, and has been locked in a standoff with Biden's administration over who should move first to save the accord.

"Secretary Blinken reiterated that, as President Biden has said, if Iran comes back into strict compliance with its commitments under the JCPOA, the United States will do the same and is prepared to engage in discussions with Iran toward that end", it said.

Iran has ruled out negotiating over its ballistic missile programme or regional policies with Washington, arguing it was the U.S. which militarised the region with weapon sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

However, Iran has said it will stop some of the inspections next week if the West doesn't implement its own commitments.

The United States and Iran have had no diplomatic relations for four decades but they did have contacts concerning the 2015 nuclear deal.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed in Vienna in 2015, was based on Iran accepting safeguards created to prevent it developing an atomic bomb, in exchange for a gradual easing of global sanctions.

Following talks with British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, and German Heiko Maas, regarding Iran, Blinken held separate consultations with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Chinese FM Wang Yi.

"Our remedial measures are a response to US/E3 violations".

While Iran's policy is ultimately determined by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iranian presidential elections in June add another time pressure factor.

Iranian officials, however, say that Washington - as the party that left the JCPOA - must make the first move.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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