As hopes for a nuclear deal fade, Iran rebuilds itself and risks rise

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Robert Malley, the State Department’s envoy for Iran, recently said that while it is up to Iran to choose the way forward, the United States and other allies must be prepared for any choice. from Tehran.

He noted that Mr. Biden and Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken “have both said that if diplomacy fails, we have other tools – and we will use other tools to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon ”.

But inside the White House, there has been a rush in recent days to explore whether some sort of interim deal might be possible to freeze Iran’s production of more enriched uranium and its conversion of that fuel to metallic form. – a necessary step in the manufacture of a warhead. . In return, the United States could relax a limited number of sanctions. It would not solve the problem. But it could save time for negotiations, while fending off Israeli threats to bomb Iranian facilities.

Saving time, maybe a lot, can be essential. Many of Mr. Biden’s advisers doubt that introducing new sanctions against Iranian leaders, its military or its oil trade – in addition to the 1,500 imposed by Mr. Trump – would be more effective than past efforts to pressure Iran. Iran to change course.

And more aggressive measures that were successful years ago may not deliver the kind of results they have in mind. Within the National Security Agency and the US Cyber ​​Command, there is a consensus that it is now much more difficult to carry out the kind of cyberattack that the United States and Israel carried out ago. more than ten years, when a covert operation, called the “Olympics”, paralyzed the centrifuges at the Natanz nuclear enrichment site for more than a year.

Current and former US and Israeli officials note that the Iranians have since upgraded their defenses and built their own cyber forces, which the administration warned last week to be increasingly active in the United States.

The Iranians also continued to bar inspectors from access to key sites, despite a series of deals with Rafael M. Grossi, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations watchdog, to preserve data from the agency’s sensors in key locations. The inspectors’ cameras and sensors that were destroyed in the plant’s explosion in late spring have not been replaced.


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