US Special Envoy Rob Malley said Wednesday that Washington is using pressure that Iran has not experienced for “many, many years” to prevent Tehran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, which he claims Iran is not looking to do currently.
Malley also warned that the military option was still on the table if the US could not get Iran back into compliance with the now-defunct 2015 nuclear deal through diplomatic efforts.
The Biden administration has rolled out several rounds of sanctions as chances to reach a nuclear deal worsen. The indirect talks, which were being held in Vienna, have been stalled for months.
One of the key foreign policy priorities for Biden officials after they took office was to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which was brokered under former President Barack Obama.
“If none of that works, the President has said, and, as a last resort, he will agree to a military option because if that’s what it takes to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, that’s what will happen. But we’re not there,” the special envoy for Iran said in a webinar with Foreign Policy.
Malley defended the Biden administration’s efforts to keep diplomacy open and as an option. But he criticized the Trump administration and its maximum-pressure campaign that was implemented in a bid to try to get Iran back to the negotiating table.
“We owe it to ourselves to have an honest examination of how sanctions work and how they don’t work,” he said, adding that Iran would not be advancing its nuclear program the way it currently is if sanctions had worked.
Yet, Malley said Iran was not pursuing a nuclear weapon “at this point” without elaborating.
He blamed the Iranian regime for refusing to accept the deal that was put on the table during the previous rounds of talks in Vienna.
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