The Biden administration is against European allies’ wishes to condemn Iran for enriching uranium to 84%, just shy of the level considered nuclear bomb-worthy, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing diplomats involved in the discussions.
The United Kingdom, France and Germany support censuring Iran, as European diplomats fear that Tehran breaking the nuclear weapons threshold could trigger the official end of the 2015 nuclear deal, according to the WSJ. However, Iran said the highly-enriched particles were produced unintentionally, and the Biden State Department wants to wait until an international watchdog organization concludes an investigation.
The U.S. is “going to continue to consult very closely with our partners to do what we believe will be most effective,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said at a briefing Wednesday, according to the WSJ.
Some European diplomats accused Washington of failing to take a firm stance as negotiations aimed at reviving the 2015 nuclear deal sputtered to a standstill, the WSJ reported. The Biden administration is reluctant to ramp up consequences for Iran’s nuclear buildup, but at the same time unwilling to make the political and diplomatic concessions necessary to revive the pact, the diplomats said.
European countries want to pass a resolution condemning Iran’s nuclear development at an IAEA board of governors meeting next week, the WSJ reported. However, they are are unlikely to take official action without U.S. backing.
U.S. diplomats noted that America supported a historic resolution in November to censure Iran, according to the WSJ.
The IAEA is continuing discussions with Iran over what precipitated production of 84% enriched uranium, according to the WSJ. In addition, officials close to the organization could not discredit with certainty Iran’s claims the materials were accidentally enriched at near nuclear-capable levels, they told the outlet.
The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed that Director General Rafael Grossi will travel to Tehran on Thursday for “high level meetings” with Iranian officials.
A portion of the report detailing the never-before-seen levels of uranium enrichment leaked to the media in the days prior. European officials called the report, which was later officially released by the IAEA, “an unprecedented and extremely grave development,” according to the WSJ.
The report also found that Iran is not stockpiling the 84% enriched nuclear material, although it continues to enrich uranium to 60% — a level still considered dangerous and unnecessary — at its Fordow nuclear plant.
“I think there is still the view that if you could resolve this issue diplomatically and put constraints back on their nuclear program, it is better than the other options. But right now, the JCPOA is on ice,” Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl said, referring to the nuclear agreement former President Donald Trump slashed in 2018, according to Reuters.
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