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Biden orders to prepare ‘additional measures’ in case Iran nuclear diplomacy fails

White House press secretary says US president asked his team to ‘turn to other options’ if no progress made during talks to revive 2015 accord

President Joe Biden talks on the phone  from the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, December 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
President Joe Biden talks on the phone from the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, December 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

US President Joe Biden has ordered his staff to prepare “additional measures” if troubled talks over Iran’s nuclear program, which resumed Thursday in Vienna, fail to reach a resolution.

“The president has asked his team to be prepared in the event that diplomacy fails and we must turn to other options,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.

“We will have no choice but to take additional measures,” she added.

The latest round of talks began last week and were paused on December 3 with Western participants accusing Iran of going back on progress made earlier this year.

International diplomats restarted the talks Thursday for what the chair of the negotiations called the “difficult endeavor” of reviving the 2015 deal between Iran and world powers.

The heads of delegations from the parties to the 2015 deal — Britain, China, France, Germany, Iran, and Russia — were present at the talks in Vienna.

The Coburg Palais, the venue of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) revival talks, in Vienna on November 29, 2021. (VLADIMIR SIMICEK / AFP)

Talks in Vienna on Thursday ended an hour after resuming following a few days’ pause, with tensions high after Tehran made demands last week that European countries strongly criticized.

The United States has participated indirectly in the ongoing talks because it withdrew from the accord in 2018 under then-president Donald Trump. US President Joe Biden has signaled that he wants to rejoin the deal.

Last week’s talks were the first in over five months, a gap caused by a new hard-line government assuming power in Tehran. European diplomats last week urged Tehran to come back with “realistic proposals” after the Iranian delegation made numerous demands that other parties to the accord deemed unacceptable.

The accord sealed in Vienna in 2015, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, was meant to rein in Iran’s nuclear program in return for loosened economic sanctions.

Following the US decision to withdraw and reimpose sanctions against Iran, Tehran has ramped up its nuclear program again by enriching uranium beyond the thresholds allowed in the agreement. Iran has also restricted monitors from the UN atomic watchdog from accessing its nuclear facilities, raising concerns about what the country is doing out of view.

Meanwhile, Israeli and American military leaders are set to discuss possible military drills to practice destroying Iranian nuclear facilities in a potential worst-case scenario, a senior US official said.

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