Tehran needs to “move quickly” if it wants to resume talks on the Iran nuclear deal, a senior State Department official said Friday.
“Our commitment to doing this is not indefinite. Because at a certain time, the JCPOA is no longer going to convey the non-proliferation benefits that it once did. So, we call on the Iranians to move quickly, meet us in Vienna,” Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Joey Hood said.
Speaking to Al Arabiya, Hood suggested that the nuclear deal talks needed to include Iran’s ballistic missile program and its militias around the region.
“We also need to address the concerns that we and many countries in the region and around the world have with Iran’s destabilizing activities through promoting and funding and arming militias … as well as attacking commercial shipping and so on,” Hood said.
Asked if the Vienna talks being linked to Iran’s destabilizing behavior were delaying progress, Hood said: “You have to ask the Iranians why there’s no progress because we’re waiting on them to return to Vienna.”
“We see it [Iran’s nuclear program, ballistic missile program and support for militias] altogether, because Iran is engaged in destabilizing and destructive activities, and if it were to gain a nuclear weapon, it would be even more dangerous than before. So, we need to get the nuclear program back into a clearly civilian track, and we need to also make sure that we address these concerns of the international community,” the US diplomat said.
Turning to Yemen, Hood said the US was willing to impose sanctions on the Iran-backed Houthis.
Shortly after taking office, US President Joe Biden made it a priority to quickly remove the Houthis from the terror blacklist and lift sanctions designations on Houthi officials.
Nevertheless, the group continues to escalate its offensive on Yemen’s Marib and refuses to engage in peace talks.
Asked to explain the lack of progress in easing the yearslong war in Yemen, Hood said: We’re frustrated... We don’t want to be having to announce every few months, as we just did the other day, $290 million more dollars for humanitarian assistance in food, water and hygiene and medicine for the Yemeni people.”
But reaching a solution would require the Houthis to come to the table and agreeing on a way forward. “They’re not fighting the Saudis anymore,” Hood said, in an apparent reference to the Arab Coalition. “They’re fighting Yemeni people in and around Marib, and that has to stop.”
*This article has been updated to correct PDAS Hood's title