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US clashes with Iran over protests, Ukraine and nuclear enrichment


US intelligence officials said reviving the deal was as unpopular among Iran’s conservatives and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which runs the military side of the nuclear program, as it was among many US critics of the arrangement. . The Iranians had sought, in vain, a commitment that the United States would never again unilaterally withdraw from the agreement. And they knew that once they reentered the deal, most of the nuclear fuel Iran had amassed in response to Mr. Trump’s decision would have to be shipped out of the country.

Then came the street protests and a deal with Russia that essentially put Iran, along with Belarus, in a position to help the Russian invasion.

“The regime has made a series of consequential choices that increasingly cut them off both from their people and from much of the international community – including European countries that had spent most of the Trump years seeking save the nuclear deal,” Robert Malley, the State Department’s special envoy for negotiations with Iran, said Tuesday.

Mr Malley has generally been more optimistic about the chances of a diplomatic solution, but his view has clearly changed. “Iran turned its back on a nuclear deal that was within reach,” he said, adding that the country’s government “failed to engage” with the International Security Agency. atomic energy when he demanded more visits and data on sites where nuclear material had been detected. Iran then announced plans for new nuclear production after the agency issued a resolution condemning the lack of cooperation.

The result has been “a series of vicious circles”, Mr Malley said. “Repression fuels more protests. Protests trigger more repression. The alliance with Russia only further isolates Iran, prompting it to redouble its efforts in this alliance in the absence of any other partner.

Of greatest concern to Israel and many in the United States was Iran’s announcement that it would begin enriching nuclear fuel to 60% inside Fordow, the facility it built there. inside a mountain, on a military base, after the repeated cyberattacks and physical assaults on the Natanz. nuclear enrichment site. During the nuclear negotiations that took place from 2013 to 2015, the Obama administration tried to close the Fordow site. Chief negotiator Wendy Sherman, now the undersecretary of state, said at the time that failure to do so was among her biggest disappointments – despite the deal explicitly banning the kind of nuclear activity that the Iranians recently announced they would be carrying out there.

Now the question is whether the new, more hawkish government that Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to form in Israel will push for an attack on the facility, which would be difficult to destroy except with the biggest bunker busters. The United States and Israel have been training to carry out a strike, and Mr Netanyahu came close to ordering one when he was last prime minister.

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