President Biden’s special envoy for Iran said on Tuesday that time is running out to negotiate a revival of the Iran nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA, and warned of an “escalating crisis” if the agreement isn’t restored.
“At some point in the not-so-distant future, we will have to conclude that the JCPOA is no more, and we’d have to negotiate a wholly new different deal, and of course we’d go through a period of escalating crisis,” special envoy Robert Malley told CNN.
Since JCPOA negotiations restarted in Vienna, the US and its European allies involved in the talks have been accusing Iran of not taking the process seriously. The US wants Iran to accept a deal that was negotiated with the previous Iranian government, but Tehran put forward new proposals and wants more sanctions relief.
Judging by Malley’s comments, the US doesn’t seem interested in negotiating the Iranian proposals. “If they continue at their current pace, we have some weeks left but not much more than that, at which point, I think, the conclusion will be that there’s no deal to be revived,” he said.
Malley said Iran was trying to gain leverage over the US by advancing its nuclear program. “It seems very clear [Iran] is trying to build leverage by expanding their nuclear program and hoping to use that leverage to get a better deal,” he said.
The only recent advancement made during the renewed negotiations was Iran’s use of new centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. The US tried to spin this as an attempt at gaining leverage, but Iran’s plans to upgrade centrifuges were set in motion long before the negotiations were scheduled.
The Vienna talks are currently on pause but are expected to resume soon. While the US has had nothing but negative things to say about the negotiations, Iranian officials have been upbeat. On Monday, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said the parties involved in the talks agreed to build upon Iran’s new proposals.
“The parties have agreed on two new texts, the result of intense discussions in recent days in Vienna,” Khatibzadeh said. “These are documents in which Iran’s position has been taken into account … and on the basis of which we can continue future discussions.”