The United States and European countries have renewed discussions on ways to confront Iran over its nuclear movements amid growing fears that the Islamic Republic’s fierce extension of its program would trigger a regional war.
The move would highlight a transformation in the Western way of thinking. It would also underline concerns about the growing crisis as Tehran has augmented uranium to such levels that United States officials have cautioned that it could beget adequate 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,” Financial Times quoted a Western diplomat as saying. “The thing that worries me is that Iran’s decision-making is quite chaotic and it could stumble its way into war with Israel.”
As per FT reports, the United States, France, Germany and the United Kingdom ceased diplomatic efforts to clinch the crisis in the month of September. This came after Tehran infuriated the Western governments by saying no to a draft proposal to revitalise the 2015 nuclear deal, launched a violent crackdown on anti-regime demonstrators, sold armed drones to Russia and arrested a number of European nationals.
However, in recent months, there has been contact with Iranian officials, including a meeting in Oslo in the month of March between the officials from France, Germany and the UK and Iran’s nuclear negotiator, Ali Bagheri Kani.
The United States’s Iran envoy, Rob Malley, has met several times with Iran’s UN ambassador Amir Saeid Iravani, say, diplomats and analysts, reported FT.
The talks were mainly aimed at the possibility of a prisoner exchange with Iran, FT quoted a person close to the administration as saying. Tehran holds at least three US-Iranian nationals.
Iran releases 2 Austrians, 1 Danish
Iran freed two Austrian and one Danish national who had been detained there.
Alexander Schallenberg, the foreign minister of Austria, expressed his relief on Friday (June 2) that Kamran Ghaderi and Massud Mossaheb were returning home after “years of arduous detention in Iran.”
Denmark’s foreign minister, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, said he was “happy and relieved that a Danish citizen is on his way home to his family in Denmark after imprisonment in Iran,” reported Al Jazeera.
As per the experts, a successful US prisoner exchange could improve the environment for any nuclear talks.
Iran’s enriched uranium stockpile over 23 times the limit of 2015 deal
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Wednesday (May 31) that Iran has apparently significantly increased its stockpile of enriched uranium in recent months, continuing its nuclear escalation.
However, IAEA has received a “possible explanation” from Iran over nuclear material at an undeclared site and has decided to close the file, news agency AFP reported citing a report it has seen.
In its report, IAEA said that the estimated stockpile of enriched uranium in Tehran had reached more than 23 times what was set as the limit.
The nuclear deal was signed in 2015 and Iran agreed to a pact with six major powers (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States + Germany) to limit its nuclear programme. It was harder for Iran to obtain a weapon in return for relief from economic sanctions.
But former US President Donald Trump reneged on the deal in 2018 and reimposed harsh sanctions on Iran. Trump’s decision led Tehran to start violating the agreement’s nuclear limits about a year later.
But in recent time, there has been negotiations and talks to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), but so far, there has not been any breakthrough.
(With inputs from agencies)