West Warns of 'Nightmare' if Iran Gets Nuclear Weapons

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani addresses the parliament in the capital Tehran on Sept. 3 2019

The E3 powers, all signatories to the original 2015 agreement, continue to back it but have warned Iran about violations.

The top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Michael McCaul (Tex.), criticized the Biden administration's moves, calling them "concessions in an apparent attempt to re-enter the flawed Iran deal".

Iran is "playing with fire", said German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who took part in the talks Thursday in Paris with his British and French counterparts.

Under former President Donald Trump, the United States withdrew from the deal, which had seen Iran scale back its nuclear programme in exchange for lifting sanctions against its economy.

"There is a short window of time to limit the damage that could ensue from Iran's next steps, for example by reducing the impact of such moves on the quality of inspections by global monitors", Geranmayeh said.

The United States is prepared to talk to Iran about both countries returning to compliance with a 2015 deal that aims to stop Teheran from developing a nuclear weapon, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told European allies on Thursday (Feb 18). Blinken had joined via videoconference. The accord has been unraveling since Trump pulled the USA out of the agreement.

Specifically, Tehran says it will halt snap nuclear inspections outside of its declared sites as of 23 February.

The joint statement urged "Iran to consider the consequences of such grave action, particularly at this time of renewed diplomatic opportunity".

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Iran recently chose to produce uranium enriched up to 20% and uranium metal. Tehran denies it is seeking such an arsenal.

"The measures that have been taken in Tehran and may be taken in the coming days are anything but helpful".

Rouhani added, "We are not asking the Americans to do something illegal due to our insistence; what we want is for them to implement an worldwide pact".

"The more pressure is applied, the more hard it gets to find a political solution.Talks are being significantly complicated at the moment because Iran obviously does not seek de-escalation but escalation - and this is playing with fire", Maas said, as quoted by Reuters.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Rafael Grossi is to travel to Tehran on Saturday for talks with the Iranian authorities to find a solution for continuing inspections in the country, the agency said. Besides overcoming disagreements over the sequencing of an agreement, the United States also intends to lengthen and strengthen the deal to restrain Iran's ballistic missile program and curb its support for proxy militias across the Middle East. Iran opposed such terms during its negotiations with the Obama administration.

Tehran has been using its violations of the nuclear deal to increase pressure on the JCPOA's remaining signatories, France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China, to provide additional incentives to Iran to offset the crippling American sanctions re-imposed after the United States pulled out of the agreement in 2018.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the president of the European Council spoke with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani this week to try to end the diplomatic standoff.

Tehran has insisted the USA should first lift all sanctions reimposed by former President Donald Trump as a condition for returning to the deal.

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