The Biden administration has said it is “wasting no time” to revive talks with Iran over its stalled nuclear deal amid Tehran’s brutal crackdown on anti-government protesters and its support for Russia in its war against Ukraine.
Speaking at an event organized by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on Monday, US Iran envoy Rob Malley said the administration “makes no apologies for trying to do everything we can to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.”
Malley’s comments were the closest a Biden administration official has come to acknowledging that he is abandoning efforts to resurrect the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
In the summer, the Iranian authorities rejected the EU’s proposal and made further demands in late August and early September. Since then, anti-government protests have stopped in Iran in response to the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Ami in police custody. Morality police arrested Amini in September for improperly covering her hair with the Islamic headscarf, known as the hijab, which is mandatory for Iranian women.
According to the human rights organization in Iran, at least 270 people were killed and 14,000 were arrested. Demonstrations continue despite warnings from young Iranians to stop by the dreaded paramilitary Revolutionary Guard.
The administration announced sanctions against Iranian authorities for their brutal treatment of protesters. The administration also imposed sanctions on Iran for providing drones and technical assistance to Russia and ordered military strikes against Iran-backed militias in Syria in August in response to attacks on US forces in the region.
HOW THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION IS HELPING IRANIAN PROTESTERS AND PUTTING PRESSURE ON THE REGIME: Nonprofit
“I think people need to understand that we’re not going to tie our hands … because of the hope that maybe one day there will be an agreement,” Malley said. “No, we are taking action. We are not waiting. We are taking actions that we believe are consistent and necessary to advance our values and our national security interests.”
Despite President Biden’s efforts to revive it since August, the Iran nuclear deal is on the brink of collapse, and his administration has said Tehran is trying to insert issues outside the indirect talks. However, the administration has not given up hope of a turnaround.
The pact, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, gives Tehran billions of dollars in sanctions relief in exchange for agreeing to scale back its nuclear program to limits set by the 2015 accord.
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The deal was brokered by the Obama administration before being rejected by the Trump administration in 2018. It includes limits on enrichment and how much material Iran can stockpile, and restricts the operation of the advanced centrifuges needed for enrichment.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.