Washington’s European allies hope the incoming Biden administration will take swift steps to restore the Iran nuclear deal amid mounting pressures, including Tehran’s boost in uranium enrichment and elections later this year that could usher in a more hard-line government. President-elect Joe Biden had expressed continued support for the pact forged while he was vice president in the Obama administration, which granted some sanctions relief to Iran in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program. Biden’s nominee for deputy secretary of state, Wendy Sherman, helped hammer out the Iran deal in 2015.
But it’s unclear how receptive Iran’s leadership remains to renegotiate with world powers after President Trump pulled out. And Europe sees a tight window of opportunity following the president-elect’s inauguration on Wednesday.
Iran’s presidential election in June could bring in a new government that’s more in line with hard-liners within the inner circle of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the last word in all key decisions.
“We are running out of time,” said Omid Nouripour, a member of the German parliament’s foreign affairs committee. “Every single day we don’t talk, and there are no inspections, the centrifuges are running faster and faster.”
An International Atomic Energy Agency report issued earlier this month, and viewed by The Washington Post, stated that Iran has informed the Vienna-based organization that it had begun working on equipment needed to produce uranium metal, which can be used to produce nuclear warheads.
It represents a further Iranian breach of the deal, under which Tehran has said it would reduce its commitments since the Trump administration withdrew in 2018 and imposed wide-ranging sanctions. Earlier this month, Iran said it had resumed 20 percent uranium enrichment
at its Fordow nuclear facility, putting it closer to being able to enrich the 90 percent needed for a nuclear weapon.
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