“We are going to have to address Iran’s other bad behaviour, malign behaviour across the region, but from our perspective, a critical early priority has to be to deal with what is an escalating nuclear crisis as they move closer to having enough fissile material for a weapon,” Jake Sullivan, Joe Biden's National Security Advisor, said at an event at the US Institute of Peace on Friday.
“And we would like to make sure that we reestablish some of the parameters and constraints around the programme that have fallen away over the course of the past two years,” he added.
In contrast to the sense of urgency radiated by the new national security advisor, however, Secretary of State Antony Blinken delivered a more sceptical message earlier during a news conference at the State Department, saying that “Iran is out of compliance on a number of fronts.”
“It would take some time, should it make the decision to do so, for it to come back into compliance and time for us then to assess whether it was meeting its obligations,” Blinken said.
Iran has been stepping up uranium enrichment beyond limits agreed upon as part of the 2015 nuclear deal after the Trump administration pulled the US out of the pact and re-imposed sanctions on Tehran in 2018. Iran said it was ready to recommit to the deal if the US scrapped restrictions but would not renegotiate its terms.
In 2015, Iran signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action deal with China, France, Germany, Russia, the UK, the US, and the EU. The deal required Tehran to curb its nuclear programme and downgrade its uranium reserves in exchange for sanctions relief.