Iran’s Nuclear Program Is ‘Galloping Forward,’ Blinken Warns
(Bloomberg) -- Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Iran is rapidly developing its nuclear program, arguing that returning to the 2015 deal that former President Donald Trump quit is a necessary first step to prevent Tehran from acquiring a bomb.
“Iran’s nuclear program is galloping forward,” Blinken said Tuesday during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the State Department’s budget. Trump’s withdrawal from the deal and imposition of sanctions only led Iran to enrich “at higher levels” and build more “advanced centrifuges,” he said.
Blinken’s comments came after Senator Bob Menendez, the committee’s chairman, questioned how returning to the accord between Iran and world powers would yield a better agreement or progress in efforts to curb Iran’s ballistic missile programs and its support for groups that the U.S. considers terrorists. The New Jersey Democrat was a leading opponent of the original accord, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, crafted under Democratic President Barack Obama.
“Is it fair to say that when we had JCPOA, Iran continued to pursue ballistic missiles, Iran continued to destabilize the region?” Menendez asked.
“Unfortunately, its activities in those areas have only gotten worse,” Blinken replied.
Senator Jim Risch of Idaho, the top Republican on the committee, criticized the Biden administration’s approach, saying the “Iranians will never agree to return to the table” once sanctions are removed.
The director of the International Atomic Energy Agency said Monday that efforts by diplomats to broker an agreement that will revive the nuclear pact and ease sanctions on the Islamic Republic are at a “decisive” point.
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