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Biden slammed for Iran nuclear delay as Tehran inches towards nuke: 'it's been a year!'

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It comes as officials meet in Vienna this week in talks to attempt to revive the deal. First signed as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JPCOA), Iran agreed to curb their nuclear weapons programme in return for the lifting of crippling economic sanctions from the US, EU and UN. But when Donald Trump pulled out of the deal in 2018, sanctions returned and there have been reports that Iran’s nuclear programme has gone full speed ahead.

Dr Neil Quilliam, from Chatham House, said that after a year without Mr Trump in office, one would have expected President Biden to have made more progress on the deal.

He told Express.co.uk: “It has been a year since Biden was elected and no progress has been made so that’s another year that has slipped by.

“Biden has been really preoccupied with domestic issues. I don’t think it has been given the priority that one would have expected.

“The administration has a team there that worked on the JPCOA under Obama, so they should know the contours of the land.

“I think Biden himself imagined that they would be able to dock back into the agreement fairly easily and quickly.”

But Dr Quilliam said that this is Mr Trump’s mess to clear up, as his decision to pull out of the deal has in fact encouraged Iran to speed up the development of their nuclear programme.

He told Express.co.uk : “Trump took the decision to walk away from the deal and put maximum pressure on Iran, which was designed to push them to a bigger, better, stronger longer deal.

“Clearly that hasn’t worked and that has actually accelerated Iran’s push to further enrich uranium, develop the number of centrifuges that they’ve got.

“In terms of Iran getting a nuclear weapon, it hasn’t deterred or delayed it, it’s given it a spark.”

This comes as there are fears from analysts that Iran are “one to three months” away from a nuclear “breakout”.

A breakout is when a state achieves nuclear weapons capability before it can be stopped by diplomatic pressure or military action.

Dr Quilliam told Express.co.uk: “Whether they are one month off or three months off, it seems like that is the direction they are going and most analysis say they are close to a breakout position.”

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He said that while there was no fixed timeline, all states had shown “a sense of urgency in bringing the JCPOA back to life”.

And Mr Biden’s special envoy, Robert Malley, claimed the US is ready take all the necessary steps to revive the deal, including lifting the sanctions slapped down on Iran by the Trump administration.

He told the BBC: “If Iran thinks it can use this time to build more leverage and then come back and say they want something better it simply won’t work. We and our partners won’t go for it.

Mr Malley said that if Iran was to “try to use the negotiations as cover for an accelerated nuclear programme and drag its feet at the nuclear table”, then Washington would “respond in a way that is not our preference”.



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