US Special Envoy for Iran Rob Malley said Monday that the military option was still on the table if diplomacy failed in trying to revive the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran.
“As the President has said, if all other means fail, as a last resort, he would keep the military option, very clearly on the table, if that’s what it would take to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons,” Malley said.
But Malley reiterated the Biden administration’s preference for diplomatic efforts to succeed and defended the administration’s continued willingness to engage in indirect talks with Iran.
“We make no apology for having tried and still trying to do everything we can to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon,” he said during a webinar with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a Washington-based think tank.
Malley added: “Again, preference for diplomacy if that can work with tools of pressure, sanctions in particular, but also keeping very much all options on the table in case diplomacy were to fail.”
As for the status of the nuclear deal talks, Malley said there has been “no movement” since early September.
Therefore, he said, the deal is not a focus of the administration right now. “We’re not going to focus on something that is inert, when other things are happening,” Malley said, pointing to the anti-government protests in Iran and Tehran’s decision to transfer drones to Russia.
He was quick to say that the administration had not given up on diplomacy and trying to reach a deal with Iran. “But if Iran has taken the position it’s taken, we’re not going to spend time focused on that.”