Three Members of US Team Negotiating with Iran Quit Over Biden’s Soft Approach: Report

Three members of the American team trying to restore the Obama-era nuclear agreement with Iran have left their positions, according to a new report.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the three who quit wanted the Biden administration to take a harder line with Iran.

Richard Nephew, the second-ranking member of the negotiating team, was among those to leave, the Journal reported and Reuters confirmed. The Journal reported that Nephew last attended a negotiation meeting in December.

Reuters said the departures came as officials were trying to wrap up some kind of agreement in the coming weeks that would breathe life into the 2015 treaty that was a major piece of former President Barack Obama’s foreign policy.

In theory, the deal allowed Iran to escape sanctions as long as it did not develop nuclear weapons.


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Former President Donald Trump repudiated that policy and pulled the United States out of the deal.

According to Reuters, “Diplomats and analysts say the longer Iran remains outside the deal, the more nuclear expertise it will gain, shortening the time it might need to race to build a bomb if it chose to, thereby undermining the accord’s original purpose. Tehran denies it has ever sought to develop nuclear arms.”

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Republican Rep. Michael Waltz of Florida said the departure of three people from the U.S. negotiating team is a sign that trying to kowtow to Iran is putting “national security at risk.”

“It’s good to see some officials recognize when diplomacy gets too desperate and begins to really put American national security at risk,” he said, according to the Daily Mail.

“The Biden administration should revert back to a policy of maximum pressure that focused on holding the Iran regime accountable for their nuclear capabilities, missile development and regional terrorism.”

The State Department downplayed the changes in a comment to the Journal posted online by the Independent.

“Personnel moves are very common a year into an administration,” the Journal quoted a senior State Department official as saying. “We are not going to get into specifics of our internal policy discussions.”


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Negotiating “requires many difficult, closely balanced decisions on which there can be reasonable disagreement,” the official said.

“The senior-most levels of our government have given careful consideration to these choices, weighed multiple views and settled on a policy,” the official said, adding that “Special Envoy [Rob] Malley and his team are diligently and professionally executing that policy.”

The Wall Street Journal reported that last month, Iran sent in a new negotiating team that repudiated the agreements made by the previous team.

Maryam Rajavi of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) said Biden needs to keep up the pressure on Iran, according to the Independent.

“There is a need for a correct and responsible policy, which is to exert decisiveness against the regime and stand with the Iranian people,” she said.

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