Monday, 26 Sep 2022 - 1 of Tishri, 5783

Blinken: Iran nuclear deal ‘unlikely in the near term’

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Tehran “seems either unwilling or unable to do what is necessary to reach an agreement” says the U.S. secretary of state.

Iran has hundreds of new centrifuges that can enrich uranium to high levels, says Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz.

By JNS

United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday that a nuclear agreement with Iran was “unlikely” in the near term.

Speaking in Mexico City, Blinken said that Iran’s response to a draft agreement put forward by the European Union “is clearly a step backwards.”

He added, “You’ve heard the European Union and in particular you’ve heard the so-called E3—Germany, France and the UK—pronounce themselves on the latest developments. I can’t give you a timeline except to say, again, that Iran seems either unwilling or unable to do what is necessary to reach an agreement and they continue to try to introduce extraneous issues to the negotiation that make an agreement less likely.”

Blinken reiterated that “certainly what we’ve seen in the last week is a step backward, away from the likelihood of any kind of near-term agreement.”

Blinken’s comments echo those made on September 5 by the E.U. High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell. He stated that a new agreement on Iran’s nuclear program is “in danger” after the U.S. and Iranian positions diverged, the Financial Times reported last week.

Borrell, who has been chairing the mediated negotiations between the U.S. and the Islamic Republic, said,  “The positions are not closer,” adding, ”If the process does not converge, then the whole process is in danger.”

“Powerful and decisive action” is needed to prevent a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, Gantz tells officials at the United Nations.

Iran’s financing and support for terror proxies is the foremost cause of instability in the Middle East, and the country’s nuclear program could spark a regional arms race, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said on Monday.

Gantz, who is on a two-day visit to New York City, met on Monday with U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres and with U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield, and also held a briefing for Security Council ambassadors and representatives of signatories to the Abraham Accords, according to a statement from his office.

“I am here because I believe that together we can prevent it—and the time to act is now,” he told the diplomats. “Iranian regional and global terror—whether it comes from Iran proper or via well-funded proxies—threatens our economies, energy resources, food security, trade, freedom of navigation and overall peace and stability. This will only worsen if Iran has a ‘nuclear umbrella.’”

The defense minister said that Israeli intelligence had confirmed that Iran is plowing ahead with its nuclear program.

“Over the past year, Iran has steadily increased its production of hundreds of centrifuges, which will enable enrichment to high levels. In fact, according to our assessments, in the past year the number of advanced centrifuges has more than doubled in the underground facilities of Natanz and Fordow. Iran is not only advancing in its capabilities, but also in its rate of production,” he said.

“At the Fordow underground site—where I remind you that the JCPOA [the 2015 nuclear agreement]prohibits activities—Iran’s enrichment rate has tripled in the last year. The international community must unite. We need powerful and decisive action,” he added.

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