Iran Negotiation Team Loses Three Members – They had Urged Biden to Toughen His Stance

Faye Higbee
iran negotiation team

Biden’s Iran negotiation team has now lost three members who wanted to return to a stronger stance on Iran’s aggression. Richard Nephew stepped down as the U.S. Deputy Special Envoy for Iran but will still be working at the State Department. He and two others on the team called for Biden to return to Trump’s “maximum pressure” stance.

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It’s good to see some officials recognize when diplomacy gets too desperate and begins to really put American national security at risk. 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 and build on Abraham Accords to counter Iran’s aggression.

Rep Michael Waltz (Green Beret with experience in the Middle East)

The Iran negotiation team was supposed to work on a return to the 2015 nuclear agreement (JCPOA). But disagreements with the lead negotiator, Robert Malley, led to two other team members besides Nephew leaving the team, according to the Wall Street Journal. Iran has continued to increase their nuclear program since 2015. Toughening the sanctions would have kept Iran’s feet to the fire, but the Biden administration is not in favor of such things.

Widely regarded as an expert on sanctions policy, Nephew was named the Principal Deputy Coordinator for Sanctions Policy in Barack Obama’s State Department in January 2013. 

In the role he engineered sanctions against Iran that helped forced Tehran into signing the historic JCPOA, and was involved in the talks from August 2013 to December 2014.

He reportedly thought the United States was taking too soft an approach to an Iran that not only rebuffed agreements its previous government made but is also building up its nuclear capabilities at a break-neck pace. 

It led to a disagreement over the direction of the talks with his boss, US Special Representative for Iran Robert Malley.

Daily Mail UK

Iran refuses to talk directly with the United States. In the negotiations in Vienna, the US team must sit in a separate room and European diplomats have to shuttle paperwork between the main negotiation area and the Americans. Iran has a “new negotiating team” that has reportedly backtracked and refused even the small concession made previously. Richard Nephew quit attending the negotiations in December, according to the Daily Mail.

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.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss


Featured screenshot of negotiation area in Vienna via Iranian news media

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