BRUSSELS — In Vienna last week, the signers of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal came together with what would appear to be a simple task. They wanted to restore compliance with an agreement that puts strict controls on Iran’s nuclear enrichment, to ensure that it cannot build a nuclear weapon, in return for the lifting of punishing economic sanctions.
Both Iran and the United States insist that they want to return to the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. But nothing about the meetings is simple.
The first sessions went well, with working groups established to try to synchronize the return of both countries — a group on sanctions to bring the United States back into compliance and a group on nuclear issues, to bring Iran and its nuclear program back within the limits established in the accord.
But with Iran pressing ahead with enrichment in the meantime, and a mysterious explosion Sunday night at its Natanz nuclear-enrichment plant that American and Israeli officials say is the work of Israel, the atmosphere for the talks will be much more strained.
threatened retaliation against Israel, European officials still believe that both Tehran and Washington want the talks to succeed regardless of Israeli opposition.
Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III is in Israel now, raising the question of whether the attack on Natanz was done with the knowledge or even the permission of the United States. He will
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