The recent meeting in Doha between the United States and Iran, coordinated by the European Union, to move to finalizing an agreement to return to full implementation of the Iran nuclear deal, ended in disappointment.
In an interview with NPR, U.S. Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley, who is the leader of the U.S. delegation, said, “The party that has not said yes is Iran.”
Under the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, Iran agreed to constrain its nuclear activity (including uranium enrichment, which is necessary for the development of a nuclear weapon) in exchange for the lifting of all nuclear-related sanctions. In 2018 then-President Donald Trump withdrew from the deal. Indirect negotiations between the United States and Iran for a mutual return to the JCPOA started over a year ago. In March 2022, it seemed that such a return was near – until negotiations stalled for months.
“[The Iranians] have, including in Doha, added demands that I think anyone looking at this would be viewed as having nothing to do with the nuclear deal, things that they’ve wanted in the past,” said Special Envoy Malley. “The discussion that really needs to take place right now is not so much between us and Iran, although we’re prepared to have that; it’s between Iran and itself, that they need to come to a conclusion about whether they are prepared to come back into compliance with the deal, if we’re prepared to do the same, and we’ve said we are.”
Special Envoy Malley noted that Iran is now much closer to having enough fissile material for a nuclear bomb. However, he said, “To our knowledge, they have not resumed their weaponization program, which they would need to develop the bomb. But we are of course alarmed, as are our partners, at the progress they’ve made in the enrichment field.”
“There is still time to resolve this,” Special Envoy Malley declared. “There is still time to come back to the deal that was working. We hope Iran chooses that course. It’s the course to which we remain committed.”