US envoy vows to continue pressure on Iran, shun JCPOA revival talks
The US special envoy for Iran Robert Malley has ruled out push for stalled talks to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, saying Washington would continue its policy of pressure and sanctions against Tehran.
He made the remarks amid pressure from anti-Iran groups and figures who have called on the US government to banish diplomacy and pursue a confrontational approach toward the Islamic Republic.
Speaking to reporters in Paris, Malley insisted on blaming Iran for the failure of the talks to revive the nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
“If these negotiations are not happening, it’s because of Iran’s position and everything that has happened since (September),” the US envoy claimed.
He added that the United States’ focus has shifted away from reviving the JCPOA over claims that Iran is allegedly cracking down on protesters and selling drones to Russia to be used in the war in Ukraine, both of which Tehran has vehemently rejected.
“Our focus is not an accord that isn’t moving forward, but what is happening in Iran.”
Last month, Malley was criticized by anti-Iran figures and trolls after he tweeted that Iranian protesters wanted their government to “respect their dignity and human rights.” They claimed that contrary to his remarks, Iranian protesters wanted to overthrow the Islamic Republic.
The US special envoy soon took back his comments, saying his tweet “was poorly worded,” after US-based anti-Iran propagandist Masih Alinejad launched a campaign to gather signatures calling for Malley’s removal from office for what she called misrepresenting Iran’s protests and seeking a nuclear deal with Iran.
In his Monday remarks, however, Malley reiterated Washington’s contradictory stance vis-à-vis Iran and said his country would leave the door open to resume diplomacy “when and if” the time came, but for now it would continue a policy of sanctions and pressure in dealing with Tehran.
The current crisis over Iran’s nuclear program was created in May 2018, when former US president Donald Trump pulled Washington out of the 2015 nuclear deal and imposed tough economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic under what he called the “maximum pressure” policy.
The talks to salvage the agreement kicked off in the Austrian capital of Vienna in April last year, months after Joe Biden succeeded Trump, with the intention of examining Washington’s seriousness in rejoining the deal and removing anti-Iran sanctions.
The JCPOA revival talks have been at a stalemate since September, as Washington continued to insist on its position of not removing all the sanctions that were slapped on the Islamic Republic under the maximum pressure policy.
Malley declined to give a timeframe on how long Washington would accept the status quo, but said if diplomacy failed the United States was ready to use other tools.
“If Iran takes the initiative to cross new thresholds in its nuclear program, then obviously the response will be different and coordinated with our European allies,” he said, without elaborating.
“There is no magic in which we will find a new formula.”