(Photo credit: AP)
The US envoy for Iran, Robert Malley, said on 31 October that Washington will not “waste time” on continuing indirect talks to revive the Iran nuclear deal.
“It is not on our agenda. We are not going to focus on something which is inert when other things are happening … and we are not going to waste our time on it … if Iran has taken the position it has taken,” Malley told reporters.
But according to a senior US official that spoke with Axios, the White House’s internal position on the talks is “even tougher” due to Iran’s alleged drone deliveries to Russia and a government crackdown on violent street protests following the death of Mahsa Amini.
Washington is allegedly looking at the situation “as if there is no nuclear deal” and has been taking steps to ensure there is a “ready military option.”
Signed in 2015 between Iran, the US, and five other nuclear powers, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) called on Tehran to curb its nuclear energy program in exchange for sweeping sanctions relief.
The deal was jettisoned in 2018, when former president Donald Trump unilaterally pulled the US out of the deal and imposed a “maximum pressure” sanctions campaign against the Islamic Republic; a campaign that has been preserved, and even expanded, by Joe Biden.
But while Malley insists the White House “hasn’t given up on diplomacy” in dealing with Iran, he went on to say that his country is going to focus on using “sanctions and other pressure tools” to deal with the Islamic Republic.
“There is nothing we are not doing because we are thinking about a potential nuclear deal in the future. We are not tying our hands,” he said.
While at the end of August a deal to restore the JCPOA seemed imminent, once September came, Washington took aim at Tehran’s “unconstructive” position regarding a probe into its nuclear sites by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Ongoing protests also soured any possibility of a deal being reached, as most of the western world has moved to condemn Iran for alleged human rights violations and to embolden separatist groups.
Moreover, the looming possibility of a JCPOA revival sent shockwaves across Israel, as officials in Tel Aviv and within the Israeli lobby in Washington scrambled to derail an agreement that could benefit Iran.