US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says nuclear talks with Iran are at a decisive moment but there is not much time left until Washington and its allies change tactics.
Blinken made the remarks in Berlin on Thursday after meeting senior diplomats from Germany, France, and Britain, stating that modest progress has been made during the ongoing round of talks in Vienna to revive the 2015 nuclear accord.
Blinken said, “We are indeed at a decisive moment, but we are not where we need to be. And if we don’t get there very soon, we will have to take a different course”.
"My own assessment, talking to all of our colleagues, is that returning to mutual compliance remains possible," he added, warning that "There is real urgency and it's really now a matter of weeks, where we determine whether or not we can return to mutual compliance with the agreement."
The United States has been warning since early December that time is running out and only weeks remain to reach a point where the JCPOA agreement would lose its utility as a non-proliferation instrument.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock echoed Blinken’s comments, saying, “Our objective is to maintain and to preserve the agreement and above all, to make Iran see sense and to ensure that Iran can no further increase its enrichment capacity”.
She underlined that “the window for finding a solution is closing. The negotiations are in a decisive phase. We need urgent, urgent progress, otherwise we will not be successful in reaching a joint accord."
Referring to Iran’s enrichment of uranium at 60-percent purity, Baerbock said that "there is no plausible explanation for this and Iran is not providing a plausible explanation for this".
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian reiterated complaints about the "partial, timid and slow" progress in talks, saying that "the negotiations cannot go on so slowly".
President Joe Biden on Wednesday dismissed abandoning the talks and insisted there is some progress. “It’s not time to give up. There is some progress being made. The P5+1 is on the same page. But it remains to be seen,” he said.
Iran continues to enrich uranium at 60-percent purity and most analysts agree that it is shortening the time to having enough fissile material for a nuclear bomb. The US and its European allies have warned that with the kind of progress Iran is making, the Vienna talks can become meaningless if they drag on.