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Iran wants its economic sanctions lifted. The United States wants an assurance that Iran will not acquire nuclear weapons. It is time to talk.

On Sunday, Iran announced that it had breached the limit on uranium enrichment — fissile purity of 3.67 percent required for electricity generation — detailed in the 2015 nuclear deal with the United States and other international powers. It has threatened to go further.

President Hassan Rouhani had said on Wednesday that Iran would enrich uranium to “whatever levels it needs.” The Trump administration had responded that it would continue its “maximum pressure” policy of stringent economic sanctions until Iran “ends its nuclear ambitions and its malign behavior.”

As citizens of the United States and Iran who have dedicated our lives to the pursuit of peace, we are gravely concerned about escalating tensions between our countries.

The Trump administration’s maximum-pressure policy has brought us to the cliff of an armed confrontation and further inflamed the Gulf region. Although Tehran is far from producing a nuclear weapon, a failed agreement with Washington could lead it to pursue its nuclear program more aggressively. This could set a dangerous global precedent, potentially leading to unregulated proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Washington and Tehran need to de-escalate immediately through maximum diplomacy, with support from other signatories of the nuclear deal, and start drafting the terms of an agreement suitable to both.

Iran wants its economic sanctions lifted. The United States wants, at the minimum, an assurance that Iran will not acquire nuclear weapons. Wisdom dictates that the United States and Iran commit to an agreement that addresses these mutual concerns.

On Wednesday, President Rouhani had made it clear that Tehran’s measures were fully reversible: “All of our actions can be returned to the previous condition within one hour.” His statement indicates a willingness to negotiate. Read more

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