- The Washington Times
Friday, January 29, 2021

The Biden administration has appointed a former Obama White House Mideast adviser Robert Malley to be the State Department’s new Special Envoy for Iran policy.

Mr. Malley, who has spent recent years heading the International Crisis Group think tank, is widely credited as one of the architects of the 2015 nuclear deal that the Obama administration reached with Iran and other world powers. He will now have a central role in the Biden administration.

Speculation has swirled since Mr. Biden’s November election win that the new administration has plans to try and quickly re-enter the nuclear deal that former President Trump withdrew the U.S. from in 2018. The nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) had seen Tehran limit its nuclear activities in exchange for relief from international sanctions.

President Trump disparaged the JCPOA for failing to address other matters such as Tehran’s ballistic missile program that violates U.N. Security Council resolutions and the Iranian government’s support for destabilizing militants in various nations around the Middle East.

After pulling out of the deal, the Trump administration unilaterally re-imposed U.S. sanctions on Iran. In response to the re-imposed sanctions, the Iranian government resumed high-level nuclear enrichment activities.

Newly-confirmed Secretary of State Antony Blinken made headlines this week by saying Iran must act first if it wants to salvage the deal, suggesting the Biden administration will not ease sanctions until Tehran has halted uranium enrichment activities that violate the Obama-era accord.

Talking with reporters on his first full day on the job Wednesday, Mr. Blinken stopped short of laying out explicit preconditions for talks with the Iranian, saying that the Biden administration will reciprocate only “if Iran comes back into full compliance.”

State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement Friday that Mr. Blinken is now “building a dedicated team, drawing from clear-eyed experts with a diversity of views” for the Iran policy.

“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 program,” Mr. Price said.

• Guy Taylor can be reached at gtaylor@washingtontimes.com.

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