US Special Envoy for Iran Rob Malley said on Wednesday that the Biden administration would submit any potential nuclear deal to Congress for review.
Testifying in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC), Malley continued a previous trend of blaming the Trump administration for Iran inching closer to being able to acquire a nuclear weapon.
“The alternative theory JCPOA critics advanced was given a chance. It failed, and emphatically so,” he said, using the acronym for the 2015 nuclear deal brokered by the Obama administration.
Malley was pressed by both Republicans and Democrats during the hearing, where the Biden administration was heavily criticized for its approach and adamance on reaching a deal with Iran.
He still said he believed that reaching a deal with Iran was in the best interest of the US but noted that there was a possibility of no agreement being reached. “We do not have a deal with Iran and prospects for reaching one are, at best, tenuous,” he said.
For almost a year, Biden administration officials have been saying that Iran is “weeks away” from being able to get a nuclear weapon. Asked about these statements, Malley said: “At this point, it is our technical expert assessment that the non-proliferation benefits of the deal are worth the sanctions relief we would provide.”
Doubling down on his skepticism of a deal being reached, Malley said there remained a “huge question.” He said he was “not particularly optimistic, to put it mildly.”
Malley also hit back at reports, suggesting Moscow was given the lead role in the talks. Iran has refused to engage in direct dialogue with US officials in Vienna, where officials had been meeting to revive the deal. “I think there’s been a lot written about Russia‘s role, which is pure fantasy. Russia has not played a central role in these negotiations; I think our European allies would take offense at hearing that,” according to Malley.
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