Three of Biden's Iran negotiating team RESIGN because the US is not being tough enough on nuke deal 1

Three of Biden’s Iran negotiating team RESIGN because the US is not being tough enough on nuke deal

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Three of Biden’s team negotiating with Iran on nuclear deal RESIGN because the US is not being tough enough – as diplomats warn talks are entering a critical phase

  • Senior Iran negotiator quits amid reports of policy differences
  • State Department official confirmed Tuesday that Richard Nephew stood down
  • He was  U.S. Deputy Special Envoy for Iran and known as sanctions architect
  • Nephew, who wanted Biden to take a harder stance against Iran, has reportedly been avoiding the meetings in Vienna since December 
  • At the same time, reports emerged that two other negotiators had left
  • It comes at a critical time in negotiations between the West and Tehran 
  • Iran has rejected talk of an interim agreement and wants a legal guarantee that the U.S. will not walk away from the nuclear deal
  • It also won’t negotiate directly with the US, with European intermediaries 
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A top member of the U.S. team negotiating with Iran has left the role after urging a tougher stance on nuclear talks.

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.

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At the same time, the Wall Street Journal reported that two other negotiators had stepped aside because they wanted a harder negotiating position. 

The team’s policy differences reportedly involved the enforcement of existing sanctions and even pulling out of the talks altogether as Iran expands its nuclear program.  

Their departures, another blow to President Joe Biden’s foreign policy goals and a State Department grappling with Russian diplomats who appear poised for conflict in Ukraine, come at a critical time in talks that resumed two months ago. 

Western diplomats say they hope for a breakthrough in the coming weeks – but critical differences remain between the two sides and Britain on Tuesday warned of a looming impasse.

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Meanwhile the Biden administration has been grappling with criticism that it’s taken too soft a stance against Iran from Republicans at home. 

A State Department official declined to comment on the specifics of internal policy discussions. 

A State Department official confirmed that Richard Nephew was no longer deputy special envoy for Iran but was still working at the State Department

A State Department official confirmed that Richard Nephew was no longer deputy special envoy for Iran but was still working at the State Department

Nuclear talks resumed in Vienna, Austria, in November but have made little progress. Iran refuses to talk directly with American negotiators. As a result European diplomats have to carry communications between separate rooms but the effort has stalled

Nuclear talks resumed in Vienna, Austria, in November but have made little progress. Iran refuses to talk directly with American negotiators. As a result European diplomats have to carry communications between separate rooms but the effort has stalled

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The Trump administration withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018, saying its destabilizing impact in the Middle East and developments in rocket technology put Iran in breach

The Trump administration withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018, saying its destabilizing impact in the Middle East and developments in rocket technology put Iran in breach

‘The previous administration left us with a terrible set of choices on Iran,’ he said. 

‘Maximum pressure failed, leaving Iran with a rapidly expanding nuclear program and a more aggressive regional posture. At the same time, we were isolated from many of our closest allies and partners. 

‘Working our way out of this crisis requires many difficult, closely balanced decisions, on which there can be reasonable disagreement.’

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Nephew, who wanted Biden to take a harder stance against Iran, has reportedly been avoiding the meetings in Vienna since December. 

That same month, senior American officials involved in the talks began pushing for an end after Iran sent in a new negotiating team that reneged on most concessions made by its previous officials, sources close to the discussion told the Journal.

Talks on returning to the 2015 nuclear deal abandoned by the Trump administration resumed in Vienna last year, under the direction of Antony Blinken’s State Department.

However, they have been complicated by Tehran’s refusal to talk directly with American officials. Instead, communications are shuttled between separate rooms by European diplomats.  

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But with the clock ticking, Western officials fear it is only a matter of weeks before Iran obtains the material and know-how to produce enough fuel for a nuclear bomb. 

The result was reportedly difference of opinion within the U.S. team about whether to halt talks in the face of Iran’s foot-dragging and how firmly to enforce existing sanctions.  

Under the terms of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, sanctions were lifted in return for limits on Iran’s nuclear program. 

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss on Tuesday told lawmakers that negotiations were 'reaching a dangerous impasse' and told Iran it must decide if it wants a deal

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss on Tuesday told lawmakers that negotiations were ‘reaching a dangerous impasse’ and told Iran it must decide if it wants a deal

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When President Donald Trump reimposed sanctions in 2018, Iran returned to enriching uranium.

The Biden administration believes the best way forward is a return to the 2015 deal. 

Iran says it also wants a return to the deal, but has rejected talk of an interim agreement in the meantime and wants a legal guarantee that the U.S. will not walk away from the JCPOA again.

The British Foreign Secretary spelled out the scale of the problem on Tuesday. 

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‘This negotiation is urgent and progress has not been fast enough. We continue to work in close partnership with our allies but the negotiations are reaching a dangerous impasse,’ Liz Truss told the British parliament.

‘Iran must now choose whether it wants to conclude a deal or be responsible for the collapse of the JCPOA. 

‘And if the JCPOA collapses, all options are on the table.’

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