The UN nuclear monitoring organization confirmed that Iran is decreasing its rate of production of 60% enriched uranium and diluting its existing stockpile. Tehran’s decision could open the door for diplomacy on the nuclear issue.
Reuters reports it viewed a document produced by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) outlining Tehran’s move to limit its nuclear enrichment program. After then-President Donald Trump exited the nuclear agreement with Iran in 2018, Tehran responded to American sanctions by increasing its enrichment program, which had been restricted by the 2015 deal. However, Iran has never attempted to enrich uranium to the 90% level needed for a bomb, and there is no indication Tehran is seeking to develop a nuclear weapon.
Henry Rome of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy explained that the reduction in 60% enriched uranium production opened a door for the White House to engage in diplomacy. “[The slowdown sets] the stage for additional diplomacy this fall around the nuclear program,” he said. “For Washington, there is probably a low bar for what Iran needed to do for the purposes of ‘de-escalation. Iran has likely crossed that bar.”
He added that the Joe Biden administration would avoid inking a deal with Tehran until after the 2024 election: “Albeit without the goal of reaching a new deal until after the U.S. presidential elections,” he added.
Biden has faced stiff resistance in Congress and elsewhere when making any effort to talk with Iran. Israel attacked Iranian ships in 2021 as Washington was preparing to engage in indirect talks with Iran. In August of this year, a group of Republican Representatives slammed the White House for “pursuing a nuclear understanding with Iran alongside a hostage release deal.”
Even within Biden’s own party, prominent Democrats, such as Senator Bob Menendez, blasted the administration for engaging in talks with Iran to revive the Obama-era nuclear agreement.