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US sees Iran nuclear breakout time as really short: Senior official

A senior Biden administration official told reporters on Friday that the US believes Iran's breakout time for creating enough highly enriched uranium for one nuclear weapon is now "very short" and frightening.

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The United States believes Iran’s nuclear breakout time to producing enough highly enriched uranium for one nuclear weapon is now “really short” and alarming, a senior Biden administration official told reporters on Friday.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, did not have a precise time for the breakout, which has been estimated to be a matter of months.

Read more: Israel begs US to suspend Iran nuclear talks

What actually happened?

“But it’s really short. It is unacceptably short,” the official said, calling it “alarming”.

The official said Andrea Gacki, the Treasury Department’s director of foreign asset control, was in the United Arab Emirates earlier this week urging private companies not to evade sanctions against Iran.

“If you are evading sanctions, the U.S. will have its eye very much on you. There will be consequences,” the official said.

Result of talks 

The latest round of indirect US-Iranian discussions in Vienna has made better-than-expected progress even though the parties remain far from agreement on a roadmap toward lifting US sanctions and returning Tehran to nuclear compliance, a senior US official said today.

The outcome of the seventh round of talks was “better than it might have been, but worse than it should have been,” the official said as talks in Vienna adjourned today at Tehran’s request.

Read more: ‘No progress’ on eve of Iran nuclear talks: UN agency

A key positive outcome was an agreement between UN nuclear watchdog the IAEA and Tehran to replace its surveillance cameras at Iran’s key Karaj centrifuge facility, the US official said, who singled out Russia for helping negotiate that result.

UN inspectors retain only a partial understanding of how much progress Iran has made in its nuclear program. Iran has selectively breached constraints on its nuclear program imposed by the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal after the US withdrew from it in 2018 under former president Donald Trump.

 

Reuters with additional input by GVS