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Iran nuclear talks restart as participants draw their lines in the sand


Iran nuclear talks resumed Monday in Vienna, Austria, as the US warned Tehran against further uranium enrichment, Israel forcefully lobbied against sanctions relief for Iran and Iran announced its « willingness and seriousness » to reach a deal — but only if the US lifts sanctions.
The flurry of public messaging was punctuated by a report out of Israel suggesting Iran is preparing to enrich uranium to the level needed to make a nuclear weapon. Two Israeli officials confirmed to CNN the news, first reported by Axios, that Israel had shared intelligence with US officials in recent weeks that suggests Iran is preparing to enrich uranium to 90%. Those reports follow Iran’s own announcement last week about its steady march toward greater stockpiles of enriched uranium, some of it dictated by a law Iran’s parliament passed last year that ordered the resumption of uranium enrichment to pressure the US to ease sanctions. Emerging from the first round of talks about the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the deal is formally known, the European Union’s deputy secretary-general, Enrique Mora, told reporters something has to change, both for the sake of nuclear security and the people of Iran. ‘Nothing has changed’ « We have taken stock of the difficult circumstances of the JCPOA, » Mora said. « Over the recent months, the Iranian nuclear program has advanced. And at the same time, the United States are imposing the same sanctions. No one, nothing has changed to the previous administration, » he noted. « And that situation points in the direction of that we have to bring JCPOA back to life — both for nuclear commitments and for the benefit of the Iranian population. » Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh said Tehran is willing to get on the right track to reach an agreement « if the other side shows the same willingness. » « The government has shown its willingness and seriousness by sending a quality team known to all, » Khatibzadeh told a news conference in Tehran. « If the other side shows the same willingness, we will be on the right track to reach an agreement. » The two Israeli officials told CNN that Israel had shared information about Iran’s activities with the US in the weeks leading up to Monday’s resumption of talks, which had stalled after six rounds of negotiations for almost six months.

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