In this March 30, 2005 file photo, an Iranian security official in protective clothing walks through part of the Uranium Conversion Facility just outside the Iranian city of Isfahan. Image Credit: AP

There’s an adage that says ‘if you give an inch, they will take a mile’, and as is the case with Iran now, that certainly holds true. The regime in Tehran seems intent on enriching greater amounts of uranium to higher concentrations — a highly technical, highly expensive and highly complex process that has only one ultimate end: The acquisition of weapons’ grade material.

Clearly, with Iran to be engaged in such a process shreds its insistence that its nuclear programme would only generate electricity for its factories, businesses and homes, there is a cause for growing concern. Just as it takes a mile for every inch offered, Iran cannot be taken for its word — and after shaking hands with the regime, you might do well to count the number of fingers remaining on your hand afterwards.

With Tehran’s uranium enrichment programme escalating, the United States and its allies have every reason to be cautious. That’s why, in Washington earlier this week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned that the US is ready to “turn to other options” if Tehran does not change course and come back into compliance with the 2015 nuclear accord.

Blinken’s comments came as he met Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the foreign minister of Israel.

The Secretary of State noted that time is running out for a return to the Iran nuclear deal after months of stalling by Tehran, and the regime’s attitude has become more rigid in its mindset with the election last month of a hardline government.

What is clear is that Tehran seems determined to press ahead with keeping its centrifuges turning out higher and higher grades of enriched uranium. That is a dangerous course if it continues apace, certainly putting pressure on that ticking clock too.

Secretary of State Blinken said that diplomacy is the preferred course but warned that unless the regime in Tehran changes tack, Washington is prepared to turn to other options. His comments were endorsed by Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, who noted that everybody understands in Israel and Tehran what that means.

Diplomacy is always the path of first choice and a course that must be pursued fully. For it to work, all parties must be willing to talk. Sadly, however, it is Tehran who is unwilling to engage, preferring to push ahead with enrichment instead.