Oman hosts indirect US talks with Tehran on Iran’s proxies, nuclear programme |



Two top Biden administration officials held indirect talks with Iranian counterparts this week in an effort to avoid escalating regional attacks, news website Axios reported on Friday.

The talks, involving President Joe Biden’s Middle East adviser Brett McGurk and acting US envoy to Iran Abram Paley, marked the first round of discussions between the US and Iran since January when a similar round of talks was held in Oman, said Axios.

The conversations follow Iran’s missile and drone attack on Israel on April 13.

According to Axios “the talks focused on clarifying the consequences of actions by Iran and its proxies in the region and to discuss US concerns regarding the status of Iran’s nuclear programme”.

Earlier this month, Kamal Kharrazani adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader said Tehran will have to change its nuclear doctrine and embark on building a nuclear bomb if its existence is threatened by Israel, raising concerns about an Iranian nuclear weapon being in the making.

“We have no decision to build a nuclear bomb, but should Iran’s existence be threatened, there will be no choice but to change our military doctrine,” Kharrazi said, adding that Tehran has already signalled it has the potential to build such weapons.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei banned the development of nuclear weapons in a fatwa in the early 2000s, reiterating his stance in 2019 by saying: “Building and stockpiling nuclear bombs is wrong and using it is haram (religiously forbidden) …  Although we have nuclear technology, Iran has firmly avoided it.”

However, Iran’s then-intelligence minister said in 2021 that Western pressure could push Tehran to seek nuclear weapons.

“In the case of an attack on our nuclear facilities by the Zionist regime (Israel), our deterrence will change,” Kharrazi added.

In April, Iran and Israel reached their highest level of tensions, with Tehran directly launching about 300 missiles and drones against Israel as retaliation for a suspected deadly Israeli strike on its embassy compound in Damascus.

Iran is enriching uranium to up to 60 percent purity, whereas weapons grade uranium is enriched to about 90 percent. If the current nuclear material on hand were enriched further, it would suffice for two nuclear weapons, according to an official IAEA yardstick.

Iran and the UN nuclear watchdog will continue talks aimed at ending an impasse on many issues between them and should strike a deal on a package of measures “soon”, the watchdog’s chief Rafael Grossi said on Tuesday as he returned from an Iran trip.

The International Atomic Energy Agency faces a range of difficulties in Iran, including the fact that Tehran only implemented a small fraction of what Grossi thought it committed to in a “Joint Statement” on future cooperation they made in March 2023, and the few concrete steps taken stopped in June of last year.

Vedant Patel, the US State Department’s deputy spokesperson, said Monday the Biden administration has ways to communicate with Iran when necessary.

“The Biden administration continues to assess that Iran is not currently undertaking the key activities that would be necessary to produce a testable nuclear device,” he said.

Patel added that the US doesn’t believe Iran’s supreme leader has made a decision “to resume the weaponisation programme that we judge Iran suspended or stopped at the end of 2003.”


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