Speaking on a television show hosted by MSNBC journalist Mehdi Hasan, Malley said Iran’s nuclear program accelerated only after Trump launched his maximum pressure campaign.
Malley is Biden’s point man for Iran, tasked with reviving the 2015 nuclear accord that Trump unilaterally abandoned in 2018. He was part of the US negotiating team that worked out the deal in 2015, Press TV wrote.
Asked whether the US should be the first to extend an olive branch and rejoin the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as Iran nuclear deal, the envoy moved the goalposts quickly.
“We said very clearly we are prepared to come back into the deal if they’re prepared to do their part,” Malley said, adding that the US “will lift sanctions” if Iran returns to full compliance with its nuclear obligations under the JCPOA.
Malley, who had been in Vienna as Iran and other remaining parties to the JCPOA engaged in negotiations to resurrect the dying deal, said the “ideas” were put on the table about removing sanctions that Trump had imposed on Iran “in violation of the deal”.
He also slammed the Trump administration’s decision to assassinate Iran’s top commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, saying it “made America less safe”.
The show host referred to Trump's recent remarks that he ordered the assassination because he was “under pressure” from his party senators before his impeachment trial.
He also cited a report that Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, had warned Trump not to strike the top Iranian commander, saying it would spark war.
“Don’t the Iranian government and the Iranian people have a right to be outraged by these revelations that the US killed Iran’s top general for domestic political purposes, that the US top general had to prevent the US president from starting a war with Iran for nakedly political reasons,” Hasan asked.
Milley, pushed on the back foot, agreed that the Trump administration’s move “invited more trouble rather than de-escalating tensions”
“The American people have a right to be outraged with the fact that a policy that was designed to keep America safe, by killing Qassem Soleimani, by imposing a maximum pressure campaign,” the envoy said in his response. “Three years on, the verdict is clear, America is less safe because Iran has a more expansive nuclear program and because it accelerated and intensified its regional activities.”
Gen. Soleimani, the celebrated anti-terror commander, was assassinated in a US airstrike near Baghdad International Airport on January 3, 2020. It led to heightened tensions between Tehran and Washington.