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Major Progress Made in Nuclear Talks Between U.S. and Iran in Preparation for a New Agreement

Amos Harel Haaretz 7 June 23

Israel expects an agreement to be reached within a few weeks, with the understandings expected to include an Iranian agreement to stop uranium enrichment at high levels in return for easing sanctions.

In an effort to reach an agreement on a nuclear deal, the contacts between the United States and Iran have made major progress in the past few days. Israeli defense officials say the talks are moving forward more rapidly than expected, with the possibility that the two sides will reach an agreement within weeks………. (Subscribers only)


June 9, 2023 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Iran increasing enriched uranium stocks, holding 23 times the limit, says nuclear watchdog

ABC News 1 June 23

Iran has significantly increased its stockpile of enriched uranium in recent months, continuing its nuclear escalation, a confidential report by the UN nuclear watchdog said.

Key points:

  • Iran has enough uranium enriched to up to 60 per cent for two bombs
  • The IAEA estimates Iran’s stockpile is now 23 times the 202.8-kg limit imposed by the 2015 deal
  • The reports said Iran had given a satisfactory answer explaining the presence of uranium particles at one site

The agency, however, noted progress in its cooperation with Iran in a separate report saying it has decided to close the file on nuclear material at an undeclared site, an issue which has long exacerbated relations between the two parties.

The two confidential reports come days before the board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is due to meet to review progress in addressing the watchdog’s remaining concerns…………………………………………………………….. more

June 4, 2023 Posted by | Iran, Uranium | Leave a comment

West considers renewed engagement on Iran nuclear crisis

Diplomatic shift comes amid fears Tehran’s expansive programme risks regional war Andrew England in London, Felicia Schwartz in Washington and Najmeh Bozorgmehr in Tehran 2 June 23

US and European powers have resumed discussions on how to engage with Iran over its nuclear activity as fears mount that the Islamic republic’s aggressive expansion of its programme risks triggering a regional war.

The move marks a shift in western thinking and underscores concerns about an escalating crisis, as Tehran has enriched uranium to such levels that US officials have warned in recent months that it could produce sufficient material for a nuclear weapon in less than two weeks.

“There is recognition that we need an active diplomatic plan to tackle Iran’s nuclear programme, rather than allowing it to drift,” said a western diplomat. “The thing that worries me is that Iran’s decision-making is quite chaotic and it could stumble its way into war with Israel.”

……………………………………………………………..there has been contact with Iranian officials in recent months, including a meeting in Oslo in March between officials from the so-called E3 — France, Germany and the UK — and Ali Bagheri Kani, Iran’s nuclear negotiator.

……………………… Diplomats and analysts say potential options include some form of interim deal, or a de-escalatory move by both sides under which Iran reduces its enrichment levels in return for some sanctions relief.

…………………….Israel’s officials have warned the Jewish state would do whatever it needs to prevent Iran developing a nuclear weapon………………………….

June 3, 2023 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

After AP report, Iran’s nuclear chief says Tehran to cooperate with inspectors on ‘new activities’

The head of Iran’s nuclear program is insisting that his nation will cooperate with international inspectors on any “new activities” regarding its nuclear sector

abc news, ByJON GAMBRELL Associated Press, May 24, 2023

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The head of Iran’s nuclear program insisted Wednesday that his government would cooperate with international inspectors on any “new activities.” His statement followed an exclusive Associated Press report about Tehran’s new underground tunnel system near a nuclear enrichment facility.

The AP outlined this week how deep inside a mountain, the new tunnels near the Natanz facility are likely beyond the range of a last-ditch U.S. weapon designed to destroy such sites…………………. more

May 26, 2023 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Five years after Trump’s exit, no return to the Iran nuclear deal

Trump’s slew of sanctions and a changing political climate have contributed to JCPOA remaining in limbo.

By Maziar Motamedi

Aljjazeera On 8 May 20238 May 2023

Tehran, Iran  Five years ago today, President Donald Trump held up a signed executive order for the cameras at the White House, announcing a unilateral withdrawal from a nuclear deal the United States had signed in 2015 with Iran and world powers.

Despite years of efforts, and after many ups and downs, the landmark accord known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), has not been restored, contributing to rising tensions across the region.

The Trump administration’s many designations of Iranian entities and institutions, specifically aimed at making it difficult for his successor Joe Biden to undo his damage, worked in tandem with a changing political climate to prevent a restored JCPOA.

The then-US president had argued that the deal was not doing enough to permanently keep Tehran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, and Trump rejoiced as he undid one of the most important foreign policy achievements of his predecessor Barack Obama.

His administration set out a dozen conditions to renegotiate a deal more favourable to Washington with Tehran, which would effectively amount to a total political capitulation by Iran…………………………

Iranian leaders, however, have not surrendered their doctrine of defying the US, and attacks by pro-Iran groups on US interests across the region have only multiplied in recent years, according to Washington.

The US assassination of Iran’s top general Qassem Soleimani in Iraq in early 2020 took tensions to new heights, with Tehran and Washington teetering on the edge of war…………………………………………………………..

JCPOA in the region

Since its inception, Israel has been the JCPOA’s biggest foe, incessantly lobbying Washington to declare the deal dead.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Trump after his reneging on the deal, and Tel Aviv has repeatedly pushed against efforts by other signatories – namely China, Russia, France, Germany and the United Kingdom – to restore the accord through now-stalled talks that began in 2021.

Israel has also warned it will attack Iran to stop it from acquiring a bomb, and Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, last week said the US president is willing to recognise “Israel’s freedom of action” if necessary.

The comment drew ire in Tehran, prompting security chief Ali Shamkhani to deem it a US admission of responsibility for Israeli attacks on Iranian facilities and nuclear scientists.

Elsewhere in the Middle East, many Arab states, led by Saudi Arabia, also cheered for Trump as they expressed concern over Tehran’s nuclear programme – which it maintains is strictly peaceful – and its support for proxies across the region.

But as Tehran also ramped up the pressure, and the US gradually saw its role in the region diminished, Arab leaders recognised a need for change.

The 2019 attack on Saudi oil facilities by the Iran-aligned Houthis in Yemen, and the subsequent non-response from Washington, appeared to be a turning point for Arab nations.

After two years of direct talks, Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed in March to restore diplomatic relations in a deal mediated by China, and embassies are expected to be reopened this week.

More challenges ahead

At least for now, JCPOA stakeholders appear to be content with maintaining the status quo while managing tensions.

The passing of two Western-introduced resolutions last year at the board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that censured Iran – and Tehran’s response – and a deadlock in talks since September have not prompted any side to declare the JCPOA dead in the absence of a better alternative for the accord.

The deal’s fate, however, promises to produce more confrontations between Tehran and the West in the coming months.

The Western parties have already reportedly warned Iran that if it further increases its enrichment of uranium to levels that could be potentially used to produce a bomb, it will prompt them to activate the deal’s so-called “snapback” mechanism that will automatically reinstate the United Nations sanctions on Iran.

Iran and the IAEA reached an agreement in Tehran in March to increase cooperation, which could potentially prevent another resolution at the upcoming board meeting of the nuclear watchdog in June.

Another major deadline arrives in October when the JCPOA is set to lift a number of restrictions on Iran’s research, development and production of long-range missiles and drones.

With Israel also pushing for snapback and the West accusing Tehran of selling armed drones to Russia for the war in Ukraine, stakeholders will have their work cut out for them in managing tensions during the coming months.

May 10, 2023 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

UN nuclear chief says Iran pledges more access for inspectors

Iran makes sweeping pledges of cooperation after the head of the UN atomic agency meets top Iranian officials in Tehran.

Iran has agreed to reconnect cameras and other monitoring equipment at its nuclear sites and increase the pace of inspections, according to the head of the United Nations atomic agency.

Rafael Grossi made the announcement on Saturday after meeting Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and other top officials in Tehran

His visit followed the discovery of uranium particles enriched to near weapons-grade level at an underground Iranian facility and came just two days before a quarterly meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) 35-nation board of governors.

“Over the past few months, there was a reduction in some of the monitoring activities” related to cameras and other equipment “which were not operating,” Grossi told reporters upon his return to Vienna, Austria, where the agency has its headquarters.

“We have agreed that those will be operating again.”………………………………..

The statement gave little additional detail, but the possibility of a marked improvement in relations between the two is likely to stave off a Western push for another resolution ordering Iran to cooperate, the Reuters news agency cited diplomats as saying.

A confidential IAEA report to member states seen by Reuters said Grossi “looks forward to … prompt and full implementation of the Joint Statement”.

March 6, 2023 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Iran denies enriching uranium to 84 percent purity amid IAEA row

The IAEA says it is talking to Iran over enrichment, as Tehran says the agency is being used as a ‘political tool’.

Aljazeera, By Maziar Motamedi, 20 Feb 202320 Feb 2023

Tehran, Iran – Iran has denied that it has intentionally enriched uranium to a purity of 84 percent amid ongoing issues with the global nuclear watchdog and disagreements over its 2015 nuclear deal.

US-based financial news agency Bloomberg reported on Sunday that inspectors with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had found uranium enriched to a purity of 84 percent — just below the 90 percent required for a bomb — and are trying to determine if it was produced intentionally.

This is the highest purity uranium ever found in Iran, which has gradually boosted its enrichment since 2019, one year after the unilateral withdrawal of the United States from its nuclear deal with world powers, and has declared enrichment up to 60 percent. Iranian officials have said that they are not seeking a nuclear weapon.

“The IAEA is aware of recent media reports relating to uranium enrichment levels in Iran,” the agency wrote on Twitter early on Monday. “Director General @rafaelmgrossi is discussing with Iran the results of recent Agency verification activities and will inform the IAEA Board of Governors as appropriate.”

Behrouz Kamalvandi, the spokesperson for the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran, told the state-linked Fars news website late on Sunday that particles with a purity of higher than 60 percent had been found by inspectors, but that had happened before and was nothing out of the ordinary.

“The existence of a uranium particle or particles with a purity of over 60 percent in the enrichment process does not mean that there has been enrichment over 60 percent,” he said.

“This is something very natural which can even occur as a result of a decrease in the feed of centrifuge cascades at a moment. What matters is the final product, and the Islamic Republic of Iran has so far not tried to enrich over 60 percent.”

According to Kamalvandi, an issue like this was not something the agency would even report to its member states, so the fact that it has been leaked to Western media showed it was an effort towards “smearing and warping facts”.

The spokesperson also repeated Iranian accusations that the agency was being used as a “political tool” to pressure Iran with confidential reports previously leaked to media in Western countries……………………………………………

There has been no significant progress on efforts to restore the nuclear deal since September, when the Western parties accused Iran of derailing the talks.

Since then, they have imposed several rounds of sanctions on Iranian officials and entities for allegedly selling drones to Russia for the war in Ukraine, and for cracking down on antigovernment protests.

Tehran, for its part, has maintained that it wants a deal and has accused the West of lacking political will.

Russia and China are also part of the JCPOA.

February 20, 2023 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Iranians Caught Between Optimism, Pessimism Over Nuclear Talks

Iran International News.19 Feb 23

Iranian media sounded optimistic this week following news on Wednesday that Tehran and Washington seemed to be negotiating over a prisoner exchange deal.

But gradually the optimism dissipated as no follow-up news was heard and the foreign ministry spokesman on Saturday told a local news website that the talks have stopped.

Moderate conservative Khabar Online in Tehran was quick to pick up the news about “Progress in the Iran-US negotiations.” The website’s editors were upbeat that finally, US officials have spoken positively about the revival of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which is another name for the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.

Khabar Online observed that “Although some analysts maintain that pressures by Israel and disputes with the Congress as well as some domestic political issues give reasons to the Biden Administration to be reluctant about resuming the nuclear talks, yet the bigger picture indicates a more positive outlook compared to past weeks and months.”

Indirect nuclear talks between Tehran and Washington reached a deadlock in September 2022, when at the same time antigovernment protests broke out in Iran. The US in early October signaled that it is not focused on the negotiations any more and is determined to support the rights of protesters………………………….

Apart from statements by President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Iranian nuclear chief Mohammad Eslami also told the press that Iran is prepared to continue the nuclear negotiations based on previous agreements.

Regardless of any real or imagined progress, Iran’s former ambassador to London, Mohsen Baharvand warned in a commentary he wrote for Etemad Newspaper that the possible death of the JCPOA will have unforeseeable repercussions. Baharvand said: “After the death of the JCPOA is announced any of the two parties might resort to actions that would endanger regional and international peace.”…………………………..more

February 20, 2023 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

EU’s Top Diplomat Says Iranian Deal Is Only Way to Stop Tehran’s Nuclear Program

Foreign-policy chief Josep Borrell sees no good alternative to reviving the nuclear deal even as the Biden administration shifts focus

KYIV, Ukraine—The European Union’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, is refusing to give up on efforts to rescue the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, even as Tehran cracks down on protesters at home and helps Russia in its war against Ukraine.

On a secure train returning from an EU leaders trip to Kyiv, Mr. Borrell told The Wall Street Journal that critics of his efforts to revive the pact perhaps “don’t value enough” the dangers of a nuclear Iran. …… (subscribers only) more

February 6, 2023 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Iran and the West clash over IAEA report on Fordow nuclear plant

The latest row comes as the IAEA chief hopes for progress in a potential visit to Tehran in February.

Tehran, Iran – Iran and the Western parties to its 2015 nuclear deal have once more clashed over the country’s nuclear programme, this time after a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on the sensitive Fordow uranium enrichment site.

The global nuclear watchdog said in a confidential report on Wednesday leaked by Western media that the interconnection between two cascades of advanced IR-6 centrifuges at Fordow had been changed in a way that was “substantially different” from what Iran had declared.

The agency also pointed out this is inconsistent with Iran’s obligations under a safeguards agreement required by the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

Iran’s nuclear chief, Mohammad Eslami, dismissed the report on Thursday by calling it “incorrect” and claiming an agency inspector had made a mistake.

“We immediately offered explanations that were communicated the same day and the agency inspector also became aware of their mistake,” he said, denouncing the fact that confidential IAEA reports are regularly leaked to the media.

But the E3 – France, Germany and the United Kingdom – and the United States, Western signatories to Iran’s 2015 nuclear accord with world powers that also included China, Russia and the EU, rejected Iran’s stance in a statement on Friday.

“We judge Iran’s actions based on the impartial and objective reports of the IAEA, not Iran’s purported intent,” they said, calling on Iran to fully cooperate with the agency.

“We recall that the production of high-enriched uranium by Iran at the Fordow Enrichment Plant carries significant proliferation-related risks and is without any credible civilian justification.”…………………………..

The Fordow site is so important that enrichment there had been forbidden under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the nuclear accord is officially known. But Iran has gradually abandoned any limits set in the accord after the US unilaterally withdrew from it in 2018 and imposed sanctions.

Talks to restore the deal remain deadlocked since September, with the US publicly maintaining it does not currently prioritise advancing the talks following deadly protests in Iran, while Tehran claims Washington is secretly sending messages to reach an agreement.

The latest clash on Fordow comes as IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi had said last month he hopes to visit Tehran in February to hold talks with Iranian officials on the unresolved cases of nuclear particles found years ago at several Iranian sites.

February 6, 2023 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

UK, France, Germany, USA urge Iran to meet all reporting obligations on its nuclear facilities

 We, the governments of France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United
States, take note of the report by the International Atomic Energy Agency
(IAEA) that Iran has implemented a substantial change in the configuration
of some of its centrifuges without informing the Agency in advance.

These centrifuges produce high-enriched uranium up to 60% and are located at the
Fordow Enrichment Plant. As stated by the Agency, this unnotified change is
inconsistent with Iran’s obligations under its NPT-required Comprehensive
Safeguards Agreement.

Such lack of required notification undermines the
Agency’s ability to maintain timely detection at Iran’s nuclear
facilities. The newly reported change in configuration of centrifuge
cascades used to produce near-weapons-grade uranium underscores the need
for Iran to meet all its safeguards reporting obligations, and to accept
whatever safeguards monitoring the IAEA sees as necessary in light of
Iran’s production of such highly enriched uranium.

 FCO 3rd Feb 2023

February 6, 2023 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

US Says ‘All Options’ On Table As Iran Nuclear Talks Remain Deadlocked.

US State Department said Tuesday that nuclear talks with Iran remain dormant and although diplomacy is the preferred approach, other options remain on the table.

 Iran International Newsroom 4 Jan 23

Spokesperson Ned Price said the United States has not observed any change from the Iranian side to warrant a resumption of negotiations to revive the 2015 nuclear accord known as the JCPOA. The Biden administration’s 18-month-long diplomatic effort to reach agreement with Tehran arrived at a deadlock in early September.

“We continue to believe that diplomacy is the best way to achieve that goal, but we’ve always been clear we’re not going to remove options from the table, and we’re going to discuss all options with our partners, including, of course, Israel,” Price asserted.

Israeli leaders have repeatedly said that they will use any means for stopping Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons…………………..

The Biden administration has been quick in starting discussion with the new Israeli right-wing government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu, a staunch opponent of the JCPOA. Secretary of State Antony Blinken held discussion with the new Israeli foreign minister Elie Cohen in recent days. He told new Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen in a 40-minute phone-call that the JCPOA was finished, and that the US wanted the European Union to step up sanctions against Iran.

Blinken’s reported statement about JCPOA being “finished” echoed President Joe Biden’s remark during an election stomp in early November, when he was heard in a video saying the JCPOA “is dead.”……………….. more

January 5, 2023 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Iran after a region free of nuclear weapons, Kharrazi says

TEHRAN, Dec. 19 (MNA) – Expressing Iran’s readiness to return to its JCPOA obligations, the head of Iran’s Foreign Policy Strategic Council said that for decades, Iran has been after a region free of nuclear weapons……………………………..

Iran ready to return to its JCPOA obligations

He also referred to IAEA technical team’s visit to Tehran, saying, “Now Iran is ready to return to its JCPOA obligations. Many problems have been solved so far except for the safeguard issues, and we hope that these issues will be resolved during this visit.”

For decades, Iran has been after a region free of nuclear weapons, he said, stressing that Israel’s nuclear weapons should also be destroyed and it should join safeguard.

Today, Iran has the necessary nuclear capability, but the country has no intention to build nuclear weapons, he underlined.

December 19, 2022 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Iran says Jordan summit ‘good opportunity’ for nuclear talks

Al-Monitor. Agence France-Presse, December 19, 2022 — Tehran (AFP)

Iran’s foreign minister said Monday that a summit to take place this week in Jordan will be a “good opportunity” for negotiations aimed at restoring the 2015 nuclear accord.

On-off talks to revive the deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), started in April last year directly between Iran and Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia, and indirectly with the United States.

But the indirect talks between the Washington and Tehran, mediated by the European Union, have stalled for several months with Iran facing protests over the September 16 death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian of Kurdish origin.


Meanwhile, a UN nuclear watchdog team led by deputy director-general Massimo Aparo left Iran on Monday, after a one-day visit aimed at resolving a years-long impasse over an enquiry into undeclared uranium particles found in the country, ISNA news agency reported.

The International Atomic Energy Agency team met with Iranian officials including Mohammad Eslami, the head of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran, ISNA said.

The IAEA has for years been calling on Iran to explain the presence of undeclared man-made uranium found at three sites, requesting access and the collection of samples.

The two parties discussed “future cooperation” among other issues, ISNA said……………………….more:

December 19, 2022 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Iran increasing its nuclear power

 Iran on Saturday began construction on a new nuclear power plant in the
country’s southwest, Iranian state TV announced, amid tensions with the
U.S. over sweeping sanctions imposed after Washington pulled out of the
Islamic Republic’s nuclear deal with world powers.

The new 300-megawatt plant, known as Karoon, will take eight years to build and cost around $2
billion, the country’s state television and radio agency reported. The
plant will be located in Iran’s oil-rich Khuzestan province, near its
western border with Iraq, it said.

Iran has one nuclear power plant at its
southern port of Bushehr that went online in 2011 with help from Russia,
but also several underground nuclear facilities. The announcement of
Karoon’s construction came less than two weeks after Iran said it had
begun producing enriched uranium at 60% purity at the country’s
underground Fordo nuclear facility. The move is seen as a significant
addition to the country’s nuclear program.

 PBS 3rd Dec 2022

December 5, 2022 Posted by | Iran, politics | Leave a comment