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US envoy says Iran talks at ‘critical phase,’ warns of ‘other tools’ if they fail

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

Robert Malley, US special envoy for Iran (R) and Stephan Klement, EU ambassador and European external action service special advisor on Iran, talk in front of the Hotel Imperial near the Grand Hotel Vienna where closed-door nuclear talks took place in Vienna, Austria, June 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Florian Schroetter)
Robert Malley, US special envoy for Iran (R) and Stephan Klement, EU ambassador and European external action service special advisor on Iran, talk in front of the Hotel Imperial near the Grand Hotel Vienna where closed-door nuclear talks took place in Vienna, Austria, June 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Florian Schroetter)

Commenting on the suspended Vienna nuclear talks, US Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley says “the official reasons from Iran for why we are in this hiatus are wearing thin.”

“At the same time that they are not coming to the table and they are not prepared to discuss how we can resume mutual compliance with the JCPOA, they are taking steps to expand their nuclear program, and they are putting additional obstacles on the work of the IAEA,” he says. The JCPOA is the official name of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

Malley says during the phone briefing that the US is intensifying its diplomacy and consultation with allies to coordinate how they will respond. He says that he and his team traveled to Moscow in September and to the Gulf last week to speak with concerned parties.

“All of our interlocutors – whether they’re in the region or in Europe – share deep and growing concern over the pace and direction of Iran’s nuclear progress,” he says.

He also indicates a “shared impatience” over Iran’s delay in returning to nuclear talks.

Though the preference is to find a diplomatic solution, Malley reiterates that the US will use “other tools” to stop Iran from achieving nuclear weapons if the Vienna talks fail.

“We are in a critical phase of the efforts to see whether we can revive the JCPOA,” he emphasizes.

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