WASHINGTON - There was no breakthrough in Istanbul or in Baghdad – will the Iranian nuclear talks grind to a halt in Moscow? Western diplomats said Sunday that if there was no progress on the Islamic Republic's nuclear program during Monday's meeting between Iran and the six world powers, no date would be set for additional talks. Tehran continues to assert its right to enrich uranium.
The assessment that talks will not continue comes a day after approximately half of the US Senate called on President Barack Obama to cut the talks short unless the Tehran regime agrees to three major concessions: closing the Fordo uranium enrichment facility; halting uranium enrichment above 5%; and removing all uranium enriched to a higher level from Iran.
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Meanwhile, the "New York Times" has reported "dramatic progress" in Iran's nuclear program. According to the US paper, despite the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists, cyber attacks and economic sanctions that include a ban on Iran's oil exports, freezing the Islamic State's assets, and cutting off the country's banking activity (which brought Tehran back to the negotiating table), the Iranians have consistently managed to increase their enrichment capacity and are closing in on a nuclear bomb.
'Iran is ready to make a deal - US balking,' expert says (Photo: AP)
Experts quoted in the article warned that Iran's stock of enriched uranium is growing quickly, which could shorten the time needed to create a small-scale nuclear arsenal. The "Times" interviewed Dr. Hossein Mousavian, a Princeton University researcher who served on Iran’s nuclear diplomacy team in negotiations with the EU and International Atomic Energy Agency.
According to Mousavian, Iran has indeed taken a hit from attempts to sabotage its nuclear project, but "the covert war has not been successful."
Mousavian is the former head of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, but over the years was distanced from the inner circle. In a new book, he claims that Tehran would be prepared to reach an agreement on its nuclear program, but is concerned that the Obama Administration, which is caught in an election year, would refuse to keep Republicans from portraying the deal as a concession.
"The deal is very much possible,” Mousavian said. “Iran is ready. But if you want to keep the sanctions forever, want to keep playing games, there will be consequences."
Over the weekend, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney announced that he would take military action to keep Iran from going nuclear. In an interview on CBS' "Face the Nation," Romney added that he would "do so if necessary to keep them from becoming a nuclear threat to the world. I don't think that as president I would need Congress' approval to take military action. The president already has that authority," Romney said.