Rob Malley appointed US special envoy to Iran

Lalit K Jha
·3-min read

Washington, Jan 29 (PTI) The Biden administration on Friday appointed Rob Malley as US special envoy to Iran, with the White House stating that it would engage with Tehran only if it complies with the requirements of the nuclear deal.

Malley, a top national security aide to former President Barack Obama, was a key member of his team that negotiated the 2015 nuclear pact with Iran and world powers. The Trump administration had withdrawn from the deal and imposed crippling sanctions on Iran in 2018.

A year later, Iran suspended its compliance with the key commitments in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), under which it was promised economic relief for limits on its nuclear programme.

Malley will report to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

'I'm not going to give a timeline on it (US engagement with Iran). Obviously, it requires Iran complying with the requirements of the nuclear deal. We've said previously, but I will reiterate here that the president also sees it as an opportunity to build on the plan from there,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters at her daily news conference.

President Joe Biden, she said, believes that through follow on diplomacy, the US should seek to lengthen and strengthen these nuclear constraints and address other issues of concern, including Iran's ballistic missiles program and its regional activity.

However, Iran must resume compliance with these significant nuclear constraints under the deal, Psaki said.

She said Biden has also talked about, how working with US partners and allies, including the Europeans, members of the P5+1 is pivotal to any engagement moving forward, 'of course, including one what the future of the Iran nuclear deal is'.

P5+1 refers to the UN Security Council's five permanent members -- China, France, Russia, the UK and the US; plus Germany.

“The first step here is for Iran to comply with the significant nuclear constraints under the deal, but I am certain that we will continue to discuss this issue in here and at the State Department and other parts of government,” Psaki said.

As Biden and Blinken have said, if Iran comes back into full compliance with its obligations under the JCPOA, the US would do the same and then use that as a platform to build a longer and stronger agreement that also addresses other areas of concern, State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said.

“But we are a long way from that point as Iran is out of compliance on a number of fronts, and there are many steps in the process that we will need to evaluate. We will coordinate closely with our allies and partners, as well as with Congress,” he said.

“As part of that, Secretary Blinken is building a dedicated team, drawing from clear-eyed experts with a diversity of views. Leading that team as our Special Envoy for Iran will be Rob Malley, who brings to the position a track record of success negotiating constraints on Iran’s nuclear programme,” Price said.

Blinken is confident he and his team will be able to do that once again, Price said in a statement. PTI LKJ SCY