Iran, Open to Talks, Faces US Lies and Israeli Threats

February 3rd, 2021 - by Jason Ditz / & Dave DeCamp /

Blinken Falsly Claims Iran Weeks From Having Bomb Material: Iran FM Reiterates ‘No Intention’ of Seeking Nukes

Jason Ditz /

(February 1, 2021) — Dimming hope for new diplomacy. Secretary of State Tony Blinken accused Iran of reaching enough material for an atomic bomb in a matter of weeks “if Tehran further violates restrictions it agreed to under the 2015 nuclear deal.”

This is broadly incorrect and wildly misleading. The accusation is based, superficially, on the idea that Iran has a substantial stockpile of low-enriched uranium, and they are figuring at what level that stockpile could be enough for a single bomb.

Yet weapons grade uranium is 90% or higher enriched. Iran is presently enriching mostly to 3.5% with some to 20%. They have never attempted to go meaningfully higher than 20%, and further enrichment, though conceivably possible, is an untested road for them.

Even then, Iran would have to convert the uranium that it doesn’t really have into a single bomb, a very non-trivial process. At this point, the allegations fall apart entirely, because if Iran did all of this, and conducted a test explosion to prove it had a weapon, they’d use up all of their uranium in the test, and would be back to square one on making usable weapons.

This makes the whole allegation unrealistic, but gave Iranian FM Javad Zarif the chance to reject the accusation, and reiterate that Iran is not seeking a nuclear weapon in the first place.

Iran’s Zarif Offers Way Out of Nuclear Deal Impasse With US

Zarif said there is a way to coordinate sanctions relief with Iran returning to compliance with the restrictions set by the JCPOA

Dave DeCamp /

(February 1, 2021) — In an interview with CNN on Monday, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif was asked how the US and Iran could revive the 2015 nuclear deal since each side is calling on the other to act first. 

“There can be a mechanism to basically either synchronize it or coordinate what can be done,” Zarif said. He noted that the JCPOA created a Joint Commission headed by the EU foreign policy chief, who is now Joseph Borrell. 

Zarif said the Joint Commission could oversee the return to the deal. He said Borrell could “sort of choreograph the actions that are needed to be taken by the United States and the actions that are needed to be taken by Iran.”

The Biden Administration has said the US would only return to the JCPOA by lifting sanctions on Iran after the Islamic Republic returned to its commitments under the deal. 

Israel’s Defense Minister Says Military Action Against Iran on the Table

Israel’s military chief said he has ordered the IDF to draw up new plans to strike Iran

Dave DeCamp  /

(February 1, 2021) — In the latest threat against Iran from an Israeli official, Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz said on Sunday that a military strike against Iran’s nuclear program was still on the table for the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).

“The IDF and Israel’s defense establishment are holding onto the option of taking action against Iran’s nuclear project if that is what has to be done,” Gantz told an Egyptian TV station. 

Last week, IDF Chief of Staff Avi Kohavi said he ordered the military to draw up new plans to attack Iran and expressed his opposition to the Biden administration reviving the Iran nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA.

Both Kohavi and Gantz frame attacks on Iran as the last hope to stop the Islamic Republic from acquiring nuclear weapons. As evidence that Iran is racing towards a bomb, Israeli officials usually point to recent increases in Iran’s uranium enrichment.

Iran recently started enriching some uranium to 20 percent, which is still vastly lower than the 90 percent needed for weapons-grade. The increase in enrichment was required by a bill passed by Iran’s parliament. The bill was passed in reaction to the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who was killed in an apparent Israeli plot in November. So it was Israeli aggression that led to the increased enrichment.

While Israeli officials are against the JCPOA, a revival of the agreement would reduce Iran’s enrichment. Under the deal, Iran is agreed to keep enrichment levels at 3.67 percent. Since the US withdrew from the deal by reimposing sanctions in 2018, Iran is no longer bound by it. But Iranian officials have repeatedly said they are willing to come back into compliance if the Biden administration lifts sanctions.

Zarif and other Iranian officials have said the Biden administration must lift sanctions first since the US was the party that violated the deal. After receiving sanctions relief, Iran would quickly comply with the JCPOA.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh also discussed the JCPOA on Monday. He reiterated Iran’s stance and said the US must return to full compliance with the deal by lifting economic sanctions.

“We’re waiting for US action to effectively undo sanctions, give us access to our own funds, permit easy oil exports and allow the transfer of oil revenue, shipping, and insurance,” Khatibzadeh said.

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