The U.S. Secretary of State supports efforts to revive multilateral agreements amid stalled efforts to revive them.
While talks to restart the Iran nuclear deal are apparently deadlocked, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has defended efforts to revive the pact against criticism in Congress, stressing that reviving it would curb Tehran’s nuclear program.
In testimony before the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, Blinken told lawmakers that the deal had succeeded in limiting Iran’s production of fissile material needed to make nuclear weapons — until the previous administration pulled out of the deal.
“We remain confident that re-compliance with the agreement will be the best way to meet the nuclear challenge presented by Iran and ensure that Iran, which has acted incredibly aggressively, does not have a nuclear weapon or is able to produce one in a short period of time,” he said.
Sen. Bob Menendez, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and James Risch, the top Republican on the panel, had asked Blinken about the limitations of what they said was the deal, which did not involve Iran’s ballistic missiles. program or its regional policies. .
“No deal is better than a bad deal. I would urge you to move on [from the talks],” Risch told Blinken.
For more than a year, U.S. and Iranian diplomats have been in indirect talks in Vienna to revive the 2015 multilateral agreement, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
It saw Iran scale back its nuclear program in exchange for lifting international sanctions on its economy.
Former US President Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement in 2018 and launched a “maximum pressure” campaign to impose sanctions on Iran. Iran, in turn, has been loosening its commitment to the deal and advancing its nuclear program.
On Tuesday, Blinken said the previous administration’s strategy had failed “to produce results.”
“Instead, it has spawned a more dangerous nuclear program – outbreaks ranging from a year to a few weeks – and Iran’s actions have had a more devastating impact across the region, including endangering and attacking our own militaries Never before,” he said.
Blinken acknowledged that the deal did not address Iran’s ballistic missile program and support for armed groups seen as hostile to the U.S. and its allies in the region, but said those issues would become “much more” as Iran’s nuclear program progresses. bad”.
“A deal — if we get one — doesn’t in any way diminish our ability and resolve to work with our allies and partners in all these other areas,” he told lawmakers.
U.S., Iranian and European officials have previously expressed optimism about saving the JCPOA.
But efforts to revive the deal appear to have stalled after the last round of talks last month, when Iran demanded that its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) be removed from the U.S. list of “foreign terrorist groups.”
Trump blacklisted the IRGC in 2019 — the first such designation to target a branch of a foreign military
“I just want to say that I’m not overly optimistic about the prospect of actually reaching a deal,” Blinken told MSNBC in early April. “I still believe that it will be in our country’s best interest if we can get back into compliance with the deal, and if Iran does the same. We’re not there.”
Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Hussein Amirabdullahian has repeatedly denounced Washington’s “excessive demands”, which he said hindered talks.