Iran is warning that it doesn’t plan to let nuclear negotiations “drag on” and has threatened to cut talks short if they are “not constructive”. The fresh warning from Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi comes the same day Tehran has initiated its uranium enrichment process up to 60% purity as retaliation for Sunday’s Natanz nuclear facility sabotage attack, widely blamed on Israel.
The country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei weighed in on this note with forceful words Wednesday, saying, “The talks shouldn’t become talks of attrition,” and that they “shouldn’t be in a way that parties drag on and prolong the talks. This is harmful to the country.” This is a signal to Washington that it’s running out of time for sanctions relief, which is Iran’s singular demand for even coming to the table for “direct” talks (interaction with the US team in Vienne is only happening “indirectly”).
Of course one major concern looming large in the background is that so long as no agreement for the US to rejoin the JCPOA is reached (which for Iran means Washington dropping all sanctions), Israel is believed poised to continue its brazen and aggressive campaign to sabotage the deal, likely targeting more Iranian tankers or military vessels akin to last week’s Red Sea Israeli operation against the Saviz ship.
Indeed the more talks drag on the more likely a provocation between Israel and Iran is likely to “complicate” Vienna dealings and ultimately cancel out any progress made. As a case in point, Iran’s President Rouhani has issued a hugely inflammatory scenario on Thursday as yet the latest in an escalation of threatening rhetoric:
Iran’s president said on Thursday that his country was capable of enriching uranium up to 90% “if we wanted to”, but it was not on Iran’s agenda, state TV reported.
Hassan Rouhani was responding to concerns by European countries over Tehran’s announcement it had started 60% uranium enrichment in light of an attack on its Natanz facility.
As a reminder 90% purity is precisely the level required to build a nuclear bomb.
Rouhani is making threats today to scare U.S. into a quick return to #Iran JCPOA, warning Tehran can begin uranium enrichment at 90 percent even now, but it stands by its “pledge” not to build nuclear weapons. Khamenei has made similar statements in past.https://t.co/4sv72aroUI
— Jason Brodsky (@JasonMBrodsky) April 15, 2021
Despite the words which are sure to raise the alarm in Tel Aviv, possibly provoking more military action against Iranian facilities, Rouhani again reiterated the Islamic Republic’s official position that it’s not interested in pursuing nuclear weapons, but that it’s program is for peaceful energy purposes.
“Therefore, the concerns raised by the US and Europe… and the perception that the 60% enrichment means moving towards 90%, is not true; It is wrong to think that we are paving the way for the production of atomic bombs,” Rouhani said Thursday.