US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned on Monday that if Iran continues to violate the 2015 nuclear deal, the “breakout time” it needs to amass enough fissile material for a single nuclear weapon will shrink to weeks.
“It remains unclear whether Iran is willing and prepared to do what it needs to do come back into compliance,” Blinken told lawmakers, according to Reuters.
“Meanwhile, its program is galloping forward. ... The longer this goes on, the more the breakout time gets down ... it’s now down, by public reports, to a few months at best. And if this continues, it will get down to a matter of weeks,” he added.
The comments come as the US and Iran continue indirect talks in Vienna in April to see if both sides might agree to resume compliance with the 2015 accord.
Iran has gradually scaled back its compliance with the 2015 deal in response to former US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement in 2018, but current President Joe Biden has expressed a desire to return to the agreement – provided Iran resumes compliance with it.
The fifth round of talks ended on June 2 and diplomats have said a sixth may begin on Thursday, though that was not set in stone.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price said last week that hurdles remain after the fifth round of talks and did not rule out the possibility of an agreement in the next round.
Iran has demanded that the US lift all the sanctions it has imposed on the Islamic Republic as a condition for it resuming compliance with the deal.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said last week that a breakthrough in the talks in Vienna before he leaves office in August require a "will" beyond his power.