JEDDAH: Iran has made alarming progress on enriching uranium and is hampering talks on a revived nuclear deal by making a series of unrelated demands, US special envoy Robert Malley said on Tuesday.
Negotiations in Vienna aimed at salvaging the collapsed 2015 agreement have been stalled since March, and talks in Qatar last week to break the impasse ended in failure.
Tehran had “added demands that I think anyone looking at this would view as having nothing to do with the nuclear deal, things that they’ve wanted in the past,” Malley said.
“The discussion that really needs to take place right now is not so much between us and Iran, although we’re prepared to have that. It’s between Iran and itself. They need to come to a conclusion about whether they are now prepared to come back into compliance with the deal.”
Iran ramped up enrichment of uranium after the US pulled out of the deal in 2018, and Malley said it was now much closer to having enough fissile material for a nuclear bomb.
“We are of course alarmed, as are our partners, about the progress they’ve made in the enrichment field,” he said.
The window to revive the deal was closing, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell warned on Tuesday. “If we want to conclude an agreement, decisions are needed now. This is still possible, but the political space … may narrow soon,” he said.
On a visit to Paris, new Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said Iran was “violating the agreement and continues to develop its nuclear program.”
French President Emmanuel Macron said he would make every effort to make Tehran see reason and return to the negotiating table.