Top US Iran envoy having doubts about nuke deal

America’s top envoy for the nuclear negotiations with Iran, Rob Malley, is having increasing doubts about whether a return to the 2015 JCPOA agreement is possible, The New York Times reported Saturday.

“There’s a real risk here that they come back with unrealistic demands about what they can achieve in these talks,” he said in an interview with the Times, referring to President-elect Ebrahim Raisi taking power later this week.

A major concern since Iran froze out IAEA inspectors on May 24, and the negotiations mostly broke down shortly thereafter, has been the experience and scientific knowledge Tehran is achieving by continuing to enrich uranium at the 60% level and by continued use of advanced centrifuges such as the IR-4 and IR-6.

The 60% enrichment level is two jumps up from the 5% level and considered only one step below the 90% weaponized level.

Running hundreds of IR-4s and IR-6s is considered a major achievement that can allow Tehran to conceive of a more industrial-scale program that could eventually enrich sufficient uranium for a nuclear bomb within weeks.

Relating to Iran’s new achievements and whether the newly gained knowledge could make the JCPOA obsolete, Malley told the Times: “At that point, we will have to reassess the way forward; we hope it doesn’t come to that.”

One battle between Iran and the US has been the terms of what comes after a return to the JCPOA.
Tehran wants to hamstring Washington from being able to easily snap back sanctions on the regime by getting a guarantee that the Biden administration will not unilaterally pull out and potentially even guarantee that it will remain in force beyond the end of Biden’s January 2025 first term.