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State Dept. Calls on Iran to End ‘Dangerous’ Nuclear Buildup

Uranium conversion facility outside Isfahan, Iran / Getty Images
• February 12, 2021 12:50 pm

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The State Department on Thursday demanded that the Iranian regime immediately end its continued nuclear buildup, which was recently revealed to include the unprecedented stockpiling of uranium metal, a substance banned under the 2015 nuclear accord.

In response to reports about Iran's latest nuclear moves, which put it closer to an atomic weapon, a State Department spokesman told the Washington Free Beacon that the country "should reverse the dangerous steps it has taken and avoid taking further provocative steps."

The Biden administration official also reiterated demands that Iran completely halt its repeated breaches of the nuclear accord—including the stockpiling of highly enriched uranium, the key fuel in a nuclear weapon—before the administration agrees to a revamped deal that could pave the way for economic sanctions to be unwound. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has said that these demands are non-negotiable, a position that has rankled the far left, which has been pressuring the White House to quickly move on diplomacy with Iran.

"If Iran comes back into full compliance with the [2015 nuclear deal], the United States would do the same and then use that as a platform to build a longer, stronger, and broader deal that also addresses other areas of concern," the spokesman said. "We are a long way from that point, as Iran is out of compliance on a number of fronts."

The comments come in the wake of a Wednesday Wall Street Journal report that disclosed details of a confidential report authored by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations' nuclear watchdog, which found that Iran began to produce uranium metal, which can be used in a nuclear bomb, in early February at its nuclear facility in Isfahan. Iran is prohibited from producing the substance under the nuclear accord, which is still enforced by European powers after former president Donald Trump withdrew from it in 2018.

The disclosure further complicates efforts by the Biden administration to woo Iran back to the bargaining table. Iranian leaders say they will continue enriching uranium in violation of the 2015 accord until the United States and other Western allies provide their country with sanctions relief and access to much-needed cash resources. The Trump administration referred to Iran's behavior as "nuclear extortion." Biden's State Department has avoided such fiery rhetoric while maintaining a similar policy posture.

The State Department spokesman said the United States has confidence in the IAEA's "ability to monitor and report on Iranian steps related to uranium metal production and any new Iranian nuclear activities."