Biden Taps Obama Administration Diplomat as New Iran Envoy

Biden Taps Obama Administration Diplomat as New Iran Envoy

Robert Malley, who has faced sharp criticisms from Republican lawmakers, will be tasked with trying to get Iran back to the negotiating table on its nuclear program.

President Joe Biden has tapped Robert Malley to be his special envoy for Iran, signaling his goal to return to nuclear negotiations with Tehran even as the longtime U.S. rival expands its enrichment of uranium in violation of the Obama-era nuclear deal and comes closer to being able to build a nuclear weapon.  

Malley, the current head of the International Crisis Group, a think tank, played a leading role in negotiating the 2015 Iran nuclear deal backed by European powers, Russia, and China, and was present at the outset of talks with Iranians in Oman that eventually led to the deal. His appointment drew fierce pushback and criticism from Republican lawmakers who are critical of Biden’s plan to reopen negotiations with Iran and Malley’s role in crafting the 2015 nuclear deal.

Malley now has the difficult task of convincing Iran to return to the negotiating table as the 2015 nuclear deal hangs by a thread. After former President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the deal in 2018, Europeans tried to prop up the agreement with Iran, but their efforts were overshadowed by the U.S. president’s so-called maximum pressure strategy of isolating Tehran diplomatically and economically with crushing sanctions. The role of Iran special envoy does not require Senate confirmation.