White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki confirmed on Friday that President Biden appointed Rob Malley to be the US envoy to Iran. Malley was the lead negotiator for the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA.
Malley’s appointment has been rumored for over a week, and many Iran hawks came out in opposition against it since he has a history of successful diplomacy with Tehran. Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) wrote on Twitter last week that Malley “has a long track record of sympathy for the Iranian regime & animus towards Israel.”
While Malley’s appointment is a good sign for the JCPOA, the Biden administration doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to lift sanctions on Iran. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said this week that Iran must return to compliance first, and then the US would, something he said was a “long ways” away.
With the US and Iran so far apart, a dialogue is needed to move forward. The US has yet to reach out to Iran, but reports say Malley has been in touch with European allies on how to approach Iran and the JCPOA.
Sources told Reuters that Malley spoke with French, German, and British officials on Thursday. “It was to take stock of the dossier and to assess what our state of mind is,” a European diplomatic source said.