JERUSALEM, Israel - Iran denied a request by French President Emmanuel Macron to include Saudi Arabia in negotiations for a new nuclear agreement.
President Macron warns that time is growing short to keep Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.
Iran says it’s reaching its goal of producing 20% enriched uranium faster than expected. Twenty percent uranium is one step away from weapons-grade uranium.
"We were supposed to produce 120 kilograms of 20% enriched uranium annually but now in less than one month, we have enriched about 17 kilograms which is even ahead of our timetable,” said Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf, the speaker of the Iranian parliament.
While the Biden administration says it wants to negotiate a stronger, better nuclear deal, Iran and its ally Turkey refused that offer. Iran wants to use its leverage to drop the economic sanctions.
"I should emphasize this: America was the one who withdrew from the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) and breached its commitments. Now it's America that should return to the JCPOA and fulfill its commitments,” said Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.
Iran also set a Feb. 21 deadline for the EU signatories to drop sanctions or it will cut off access for UN nuclear inspectors and increase uranium enrichment.
The Biden administration is considering naming Robert Malley as its envoy to nuclear negotiations. Republican critics like Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas said the choice of Malley would send the wrong signal to Iran.
He tweeted, “It’s deeply troubling that President Biden would consider appointing Rob Malley to direct Iran policy. Malley has a long track record of sympathy for the Iranian regime [and] animus towards Israel. The ayatollahs wouldn’t believe their luck if he is selected.”
In the meantime, Israel is watching closely. On Sunday, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz told an Egyptian television station it’s keeping open its military option to stop Iran’s nuclear program.
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