US ‘alarmed’ at Iran nuclear progress, but Washington still wants a deal

Iran is “much closer to having enough fissile material for a bomb,” Malley said. “It would take them a matter of weeks.”

By World Israel News Staff

Despite the failure of the recent talks in Qatar aimed at reviving an Iran nuclear deal, Washington has not given up hope.

In a radio interview with NPR, U.S. special envoy for Iran Robert Malley explained that after more than a year of talks, “the European Union, in its role as coordinator, wanted to try one more effort, at least one more effort, and so they invited both delegations to meet with them in Doha in the hope that the Iranians would show something, some willingness to get to yes.

“But they seem, at this point, not capable of providing an answer. And so, it was a little bit of a — well, more than a little bit of a wasted occasion, I’d say.”

Calling the Qatar talks a “wasted occasion,” Malley said that Iran has added even more demands that “have nothing to do with the nuclear deal, things that they’ve wanted in the past…

“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, that they need to come to a conclusion about whether they are now prepared to come back into compliance with the deal, if we’re prepared to do the same, and we’ve said we are.”

Asked how much closer Iran is to a nuclear weapon than a year ago or even five years ago, the U.S. envoy said that “they’re much closer to having enough fissile material for a bomb.

“To our knowledge, they have not resumed their weaponization program, which is what they would need to develop a bomb. But we’re, of course, alarmed, as are our partners, about the progress they’ve made in the enrichment field, and that’s why we think that getting back to the deal is in our nonproliferation interest.”

Deal could become ‘a thing of the past’

Malley acknowledged that Iran has enough highly enriched uranium on hand to make a bomb should they choose to do so.

“It would take them a matter of weeks. Again, it would be something that we would know, we would see and to which we would react quite forcefully, as you could imagine.

Washington’s assessment, Malley said, is that Iran has not yet decided on a deal. “Whether they are interested or not, they’re going to have to decide sooner or later because at some point the deal will be a thing of the past.”

Passing the buck

According to Malley, these developments were “completely unnecessary…

“It’s a situation we inherited from the last administration, which recklessly decided to withdraw from a deal that was working,” he said, despite evidence that Iran was violating the terms of the deal with its nuclear program.

“Our effort from Day 1 from the Biden administration has been to try to get back in if Iran was prepared to get back in because we knew – and we knew this at the time that the Trump administration withdrew – that this was a recipe for a very dangerous situation. And that’s what we’re living right now.

“There still is time to resolve this,” Malley insisted. “There still is time to get back to the deal which was working. We hope that Iran chooses that course. It’s the course to which we remain committed.”