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In seventh round of nuclear talks, Iran’s intentions will finally become clear

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Negotiators will meet in Vienna on Monday for the first indirect nuclear talks between Iran and the US in nearly six months. The hiatus was much longer than originally anticipated, and in the interim, an agreement continues to look ever more unlikely.

Some, like Israel, believe Iran is deliberately stalling on talks to give itself time to build up its nuclear capacity. However, others believe that that Iranians themselves do not yet know if they want to return to the original nuclear deal, or how to get there.

Senior diplomats from Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia plan to meet Iranian officials in Vienna on Monday to discuss bringing Tehran back into compliance with the 2015 deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which eased sanctions on Iran in return for curbs on its nuclear program. The talks could pave the way for the US to rejoin the accord.

The United States pulled out under former President Donald Trump and reimposed sanctions on Iran, prompting Tehran to abandon all the limits the deal placed on it. That has raised tensions across the wider Mideast as Israel has warned it won’t allow Iran to be able to obtain a nuclear weapon

As summer turned into fall, Iran pressed on toward nuclear weapons capability. The International Atomic Energy Agency reported earlier this month that Tehran had significantly increased its stockpile of highly enriched uranium in recent weeks, reaching 113.8 kg (251 lbs) enriched to 20 percent, up from 84.3 (186 lbs) in September, and 17.7 kg (39 lbs) enriched up to 60%, up from 10 kg (22 lbs).

“Every three months we wake up and discover that they’ve advanced,” said Raz Zimmt, an Iran scholar at the Institute for National Security Studies.”What did we expect?”

“Regarding fissile material, they are very close,” said Zimmt, estimating that it would take 3-4 weeks to enrich enough uranium for a nuclear weapon. They would still have to build a detonator and a delivery system, which could take up to two years.

What’s more, it remains unclear whether Iran even wants a deal, or whether it is stalling for time, as Israel argues, to continue to enrich.

“Iran wants to appear interested in negotiation and agreement,” said Eytan Gilboa of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and........

© The Times of Israel

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