The U.S. has fired a senior member from its team that was negotiating with Iran. He had urged for tougher nuclear negotiations.
A State Department official confirmed that Richard Nephew, known as the architect of sanctions on Tehran, had stepped down as U.S. Deputy Special Envoy for Iran.
The Wall Street Journal also reported that the Wall Street Journal had revealed the resignations of two additional negotiators who wanted to negotiate more aggressively.
The policy disagreements of the group reportedly included the application of existing sanctions or pulling out completely of the talks as Iran increases its nuclear programme.
They are leaving at an important time, a blow for President Joe Biden’s foreign policies and a State Department struggling with Russian diplomats that appear to be poised for conflict, in negotiations that began two months ago.
Diplomats from the West say that they are hopeful of reaching a compromise in the next weeks, but there remain critical differences between them and Britain warned Tuesday about a possible impasse.
The Biden Administration has faced criticism from Republicans that its stance towards Iran is too soft.
The details of the internal policy discussions were not discussed by a State Department representative.
Officials from the State Department have confirmed Richard Nephew is no longer deputy special Envoy for Iran. However, they are still at work at State Department
The nuclear negotiations were reopened in Vienna, Austria in November. However, there has been very little progress. Iran has refused to meet directly with American negotiators. European diplomats are forced to communicate between two rooms in order to avoid conflict, which has led to the failure of this attempt.
Trump’s administration pulled out from the Iran Nuclear Deal in 2018 claiming its unstabilizing effects in the Middle East, and rocket technology had made Iran vulnerable.
He said, “The former administration has left us with an awful set of options on Iran.”
“Maximum pressure failed leaving Iran with an expanding nuclear program, and a stronger regional position. We were also isolated from our most trusted allies and friends.
“Working to get out of the crisis is not easy. It requires difficult and balanced decisions.
Nephew wanted Biden take a tougher stance against Iran. He reportedly has been skipping the Vienna meetings since December.
According to sources familiar with the matter, the Journal reported that senior American officials started pushing for an immediate end of the talks in May after Iran brought in a new team, which reneged most of its concessions, and was led by a number of people close to them.
Under the guidance of Antony Blinken, the State Department, talks on resuming the 2015 nuclear agreement that was abandoned by Trump were resumed last year in Vienna.
But, the problem is that Iran refuses to speak directly with American officials. European diplomats instead shuttle communications between different rooms.
However, Western officials are worried that Iran will soon have enough material and the know-how necessary to make a nuclear weapon.
According to reports, there was disagreement within the U.S. team over whether or not to suspend talks in face of Iran’s footdragging and how hard to enforce sanctions.
In accordance with the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action sanctions were removed in exchange for Iran’s nuke program being limited.
On Tuesday, Liz Truss, British Foreign Secretary told legislators that talks were “reaching dangerous impasse” and advised Iran to decide whether it wants a deal.
Iran resumed enriching uranium after President Donald Trump reinstated sanctions.
According to the Biden administration, the best path forward is to return the 2015 agreement.
Iran wants to return to the accord, and has rejected any talk of an interim arrangement. Instead, it wants a legal guarantee from the U.S. that they will not leave the JCPOA.
On Tuesday, the British Foreign Secretary explained the extent of the problem.
This negotiation needs to be urgent, and the progress made has been slow. The negotiations are in dangerous impasse. We will continue working with allies.
“Iran has to decide whether or not it will be responsible for the fall of the JCPOA.
“And, if the JCPOA falls apart, there are many options.”