“I’m not going to put a date on it,” he told reporters, “but we are getting closer to the point where a strict return to compliance” with the old agreement “does not replicate the benefits that this agreement has. obtained “.
He said that “as time goes on and Iran continues to make progress in its nuclear program, including running more sophisticated centrifuges, enriching more equipment, learning more, it there is a point at which it would be very difficult to reap all the benefits. Restrictions Iran agreed to six years ago. “We are not at this stage yet, but it is getting closer,” he added.
The next few weeks are considered critical. The opening of the United Nations General Assembly has traditionally been a moment of behind-the-scenes diplomacy, particularly on Iran, and officials of the new Iranian government, including the new foreign minister, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, are expected to make their mark. first appearances. Seen as a hard-line supporter, Amir Abdollahian, 56, has indicated his willingness to renew the deal – but on terms which the new government says are significantly improved.
Outside experts say Iran and North Korea, which fired a new cruise missile on Sunday that demonstrated their ability to bypass missile defenses, see this as a time to test the Biden administration.
“There is a strange similarity between what we see in Iran with enrichment and in North Korea with the cruise missile test,” said Rose Gottemoeller, a former arms control officer in several administrations who now works on Stanford University. “They are both trying to put the negotiating table in their favor as the Biden administration finally turns to them.”
Iranian officials reached a temporary deal with International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael M. Grossi on Sunday to allow the agency to reset monitoring devices that help measure the progress of the program. nuclear power in the country. In recent months, agency inspectors have been blinded in their efforts to monitor certain facilities, a source of growing concern for U.S. officials, who fear nuclear material may be diverted.
The deal triggers an immediate inspection crisis, assuming inspectors are allowed to access and operate their cameras and other equipment again. But it does not respond to the country’s desire to restore its uranium production – and enrich to much higher levels, and therefore much closer to bomb-grade material, than before 2015.