Iran Accused Of Enriching Weapons-Grade Uranium As Nuke Talks Resume After 5-Month Break

Tyler Durden's Photo
by Tyler Durden
Monday, Nov 29, 2021 - 02:06 PM

Update (1345ET): According to the latest report from Axios, Israel has shared intelligence with the US over the past two weeks suggesting that Iran is already taking steps to start enriching uranium with over 90% purity, the level needed to produce nuclear weapons.

As Axios explains, enriching uranium for 90% purity would bring Iran "closer to the nuclear threshold".

Israel's warning comes as nuclear talks re-started in Vienna on Monday after a five-month break. Regardless of which direction they take the talks, enrichment alone will not lead Iran to produce a bomb. Estimates as to how long it would take Iran to master the additional technology requirements to build the bomb put the timeline at within a year or two, US and Israeli intelligence sources say.

Iran is already enriching uranium to 60%, far beyond the levels allowed under the 2015 nuclear deal that Donald Trump abandoned and President Biden is now attempting to salvage.

There is no peaceful use for uranium enriched to such a high degree. But keep in mind, the US has said that the military option is still "on the table", as even the Democrats know the US must project an image of strength or risk further emboldening Iran.

Even scarier: Israel has also shared an intelligence assessment that Iran's desire for leverage in Vienna could lead Tehran to further increase attacks against American forces and interests in the region via proxies in Yemen, Syria and Iraq, US sources said.

As for settling their differences, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said on Monday that the US and its European allies "must understand that this opportunity is not a window that could remain open forever."

* * *

European Union officials have confirmed that Iran nuclear talks have restarted in Vienna on Monday after a five-month hiatus. Earlier this month Tehran officials said they planned to rejoin talks for a restored Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal with the West, which includes indirect talks with the US via European mediators. 

It's the first time Iran has come to the table since recently elected Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi took power in August. But Reuters and others are noting that with Western powers "increasingly frustrated" it remains that "hopes of a breakthrough appear slim"

Via Reuters

Already the Iranian side's 40-strong delegation is being pressed by Western officials over whether they are stilling or serious - given talks haven't been held since June, when the 6th round of talks wrapped up with little to no progress, resulting in widespread accusations Tehran is stalling in order to covertly build-up its nuclear and uranium enrichment capabilities.

US envoy for the negotiations Robert Malley highlighted in a weekend statement that the clock is ticking for the Islamic Republic to show that it's serious: "If Iran thinks it can use this time to build more leverage and then come back and say they want something better, it simply won't work. We and our partners won't go for it," he said in a BBC interview. 

Both sides currently see the other's demands as "unreasonable" - meaning there's sharp disagreement upon even re-entering dialogue. Iran's unwavering position has been the immediate dropping of all Trump-era sanctions, given it was the US that unilaterally exited the 2015 JCPOA deal in the first place: 

"To ensure any forthcoming agreement is ironclad, the West needs to pay a price for having failed to uphold its part of the bargain. As in any business, a deal is a deal, and breaking it has consequences," Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Bagheri Kani said in defiant column in the Financial Times on Sunday.

The Iranian economy and infrastructure has been reeling throughout the COVID pandemic, which critics say is largely the fault of the US-led sanctions regimen. Sanctions have contributed to crippling hospitals and the medical and pharmaceutical sectors, among others.

This is why Iran has said it's not about both sides taking equal steps, but in reality it's Washington that must "return" to compliance with its side of the deal: "The principle of 'mutual compliance' cannot form a proper base for negotiations since it was the US government which unilaterally left the deal," the top Iranian negotiator has stated.

Meanwhile both Israel and the US have made veiled threats that if there's not breakthrough, the 'military option' remains on the table in order to prevent Iran's nuclear progress. Tehran leaders have insisted, however, that the program is for peaceful domestic energy purposes.