Joe Biden faces growing Iran threat amid fresh warnings of brewing nuclear crisis

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Joe Biden faces growing Iran threat amid fresh warnings of brewing nuclear crisis

The Foreign Secretary said he welcomed reports Mr Biden and his new White House administration had talked about rejoining the Joint Comprehensive P

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The Foreign Secretary said he welcomed reports Mr Biden and his new White House administration had talked about rejoining the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and hoped such a move would enhance and strengthen the accord signed off by Barack Obama in 2015.

Mr Raab told MPs: “We are very concerned about Iran’s continued systemic non-compliance with its nuclear commitments, we’ve made that clear with our E3 partners France and Germany, including recently at the ministerial meeting of JCPOA.

“It is welcome that president-elect Biden and the new administration has talked about coming back into the JCPOA, enhancing and strengthening it, and it’ll be one of the early topics of conversation that we have with the new administration.”

Commons Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Tom Tugendhat asked Mr Raab how he would ensure “the Biden administration, the UK administration and indeed our friends and partners in the region all work together to make sure we stop this malevolent dictatorship expanding its evil reach any further?”

Mr Raab said: “The E3 unity that we have shown throughout I think is a value, a strength, a lever for the US and the new administration, but also that there is a window of opportunity that he’ll be aware of between now and the Iranian presidential elections in early June, to try and make some progress, some definitive progress and I think against that timeframe we ought to be able to focus minds.”

Mr Raab’s comments came as the Centre for European Reform thinktank warned a new nuclear crisis was brewing in Iran and urged European leaders to seize the opportunity to re-establish a common position with the US and try to revive the JCPOA.

The CER said: “One of the first international challenges facing incoming US President Joe Biden will be tackling a brewing nuclear crisis with Iran.

“In recent weeks, Tehran has increased its uranium enrichment to the critical 20 per cent threshold, far in excess of the level allowed by the JCPOA.

“Iran has also said it will conduct research into producing uranium metal, necessary for making nuclear warheads.

“Europeans and the US will have to quickly revive the JCPOA if they want put a brake on Iran’s nuclear programme and dampen tensions in the Middle East.”

READ MORE: Joe Biden on alert: Iran playing ‘dangerous game of chicken’ 

Mr Biden has said he will return the US to the deal if Iran resumes strict compliance with it while Iran insists sanctions must be lifted before it reverses its nuclear breaches.

But Mr Biden’s nominee to be the Director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines, warned “we are a long ways” from Iran coming back into compliance.

Ms Haines said: “Mr Biden has indicated that if Iran were to come back into compliance, that he would direct that we do so as well.

“And I think, frankly, that we are a long ways from that.”

The main aim of the JCPOA was to extend the time Iran would need to produce enough fissile material for a nuclear bomb to at least a year from roughly two to three months in return for the lifting of international sanctions against Tehran.

But incoming US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Iran’s repeated breaches have already reduced the “breakout time” to just a few months.

He said: “The breakout time – the time it would take Iran to produce enough fissile material for one weapon – has gone from beyond a year, as it was under the JCPOA, to about three or four months, based at least on public reporting.”

Iran denies any intent to weaponise its nuclear programme.



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