Throughout an event hosted by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Robert Malley announced that the US has made clear to Iran’s representatives that “we are prepared to remove all of the sanctions that were imposed by the Trump administration that were inconsistent with the [nuclear] deal, and therefore we could get back to the business that we should have been on.”
“That’s where we are today, and I think that’s the choice that Iran faces,” Malley stated. “Are they prepared to go back to that or do they want to choose a different path?”
Notwithstanding the White House’s overtures, Malley continued, “the Iranians have refused to have direct communication with us, direct contact with us, so everything has been done through intermediaries.”
“It’s not a particularly constructive [format], it’s one that lends itself to delays, it’s one that lends itself to misunderstandings, and all of that has happened.”
Then-President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the nuclear agreement in May 2018. However, representatives of the other five countries who signed the pact — China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United Kingdom — have taken part in six rounds of face-to-face meetings in the Austrian capital this year, with the US engaging indirectly.
Iran has indicated it’s ready for more talks, though has not committed to a date. In the meantime, it has blown through limits on its nuclear activities that the deal had set.
Last month, a US-based think tank reported that Tehran could produce enough weapons-grade uranium for an atomic bomb within a month.
“Every day that goes by, we’re getting a piece of Iran’s answer,” Malley announced Wednesday. “Every day where they [the Iranians] are not coming back to the table, every day where they’re making statements about how little was achieved in Vienna, which is what the current team is saying, is telling us that this is a team that may not, in fact, be prepared to come back into what we would consider … full mutual return to compliance.”
“And so, of course, we have to prepare for a world, which we’re doing now in consultation with our partners from the region … where Iran doesn’t have constraints on its nuclear program and we have to consider options for dealing with that, which is what we’re doing even as we hope that we can get back to the deal,” he continued. “That is by far our preference. But as I said, Iran is giving us its answer by what it’s doing and not doing every day and we need to take that into account.”