US highlights advantages of nuclear deal, but acknowledges stall with Iran

Nuland said Iran could get its oil back on the market by rejoining the nuclear deal

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Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland highlighted numerous benefits Iran would see should it agree to President Biden’s nuclear deal, but she admitted that Iranian officials "haven’t chosen to go that route."

"The deal is sitting there on the table for the taking if the Iranians want it," Nuland said during the Aspen Security Forum. 

"It would get their oil back on the market, it would get them some relief from some of the sanctions that have come on. But, so far, they haven't chosen to go in that route.

"The Iranian people pay the price as their prices go up and inflation goes up," Nuland added. "If (the supreme leader) doesn’t take the deal, we’re going to have to increase pressure, of course." 

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Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland testifies before a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Ukraine March 8, 2022, in Washington, D.C.

Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland testifies before a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Ukraine March 8, 2022, in Washington, D.C. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

British spy chief Richard Moore on Thursday claimed that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), known informally as the Iran Nuclear Deal, remains the "best means still available" to limit Iran but said he’s "skeptical" that Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei would actually agree to it. 

"I’m not convinced we're going to get there," Moore said at the forum. "It could be a bit academic having that discussion because I don't think the supreme leader of Iran wants to cut a deal. So the Iranians won't want to end the talks either. So they could run on for a bit."

Moore argued that even if the deal did come to pass, there would still be "plenty of work" to do because Iran continues to work at "destabilizing activity around our region."

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"What they’re doing in Iraq, in Syria, even down in Yemen through sponsoring the Houthis," Moore said. "They’re still assassinating or attempting to entrap dissidents overseas as well, so plenty to do."

Nuland did not fully admit that Iran would walk from the deal, instead pointing out that Iranian officials "haven’t thrown over the table yet."

"They haven't walked away when they could have done that over these many months where the deal has been ready and sitting there. So, you know, let's see what happens," she said. 

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CIA Director William Burns, speaking Wednesday at the Aspen Security Forum, noted that under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), "which the last administration pulled out of several years ago, that breakout time to produce that amount of fissile material was a little more than a year." 

He said Friday that "same breakout time can be measured not in a year-plus, but in weeks."