A Last-Ditch Effort to Save the Iran Deal


Assessment: The eighth round of nuclear talks kicks off this week in Vienna, with U.S. officials saying Iran has only weeks to play ball …

U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration opened big-power talks this week in Vienna to determine whether steady advances to Tehran’s nuclear program render the landmark Iran nuclear deal “a corpse that cannot be revived,” as one senior U.S. official recently put it to reporters, or if there’s still a chance to salvage the accord.

The United States has cast the eighth and latest round of negotiations as a last chance for achieving a diplomatic settlement of its nuclear dispute with Iran. U.S. officials warn that the window for reviving the 2015 nuclear pact—known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—is nearly shut. Iran has weeks, not months, to strike a deal or curtail its nuclear activities to avoid facing the prospect of stepped-up coercive measures, from additional sanctions to the threat of military action, a senior U.S. official told Foreign Policy.

“Either we reach a deal quickly or they slow down their program,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity given the negotiations’ confidential nature. “If they do neither, [it’s] hard to see how [the] JCPOA survives past that period.”

“We’ve seen modest steps in recent weeks, but the Iranians are not working at a pace required to get a breakthrough in the coming weeks,” the U.S. official added.

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