The United States will not stand idly by if Iran gets too close to a nuclear weapon, US Special Envoy Rob Malley has said ahead of next week's nuclear talks.

"If they start getting too close, too close for comfort, then of course we will not be prepared to sit idly by," he told National Public Radio in an interview, according to excerpts released by the US broadcaster. The excerpts of the interview released on Wednesday did not address what he meant by "too close" nor US options in that case.

Indirect talks between the United States and Iran are set to resume in Vienna on Monday with the other members of the 2015 nuclear deal - Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia - shuttling between the two sides because Iranian officials refuse to meet directly with their US counterparts.

Iran has adopted a tougher negotiating position in recent weeks, demanding the US lift sanctions all at once before an agreement is reached in the Vienna talks. It has also demanded guarantees from the Biden Administration that future US governments will not withdraw from an agreement, a proposition the White House cannot deliver on given US constitutional provisions.

US President Joe Biden is trying to revive the 2015 deal, under which Iran agreed to limit its nuclear program in return for relief from US, UN and EU sanctions. Biden's predecessor, Donald Trump, abandoned the agreement in 2018 and reimposed sanctions, prompting Iran to begin violating its nuclear limits by enriching uranium at higher levels.

This has led to alarm in many capitals as it would bring Iran closer to the threshold of nuclear weapons, while multilateral talks are dragged out.

"If they choose not to go back into the deal, then obviously we're going to have to see other efforts - diplomatic and otherwise - to try to address Iran's nuclear ambitions," the US Special Envoy for Iran said in the interview, which was recorded on Tuesday and is scheduled for broadcast on Friday.

A trip by Rafael Grossi, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to Iran on Tuesday to resolve limitations on monitoring failed. Iran’s refusal to give full access to the UN nuclear watchdog might have a negative impact on the upcoming talks.

Malley said that if Iran chose not to revive compliance with the agreement and instead dragged its feet at the negotiating table and continued to accelerate its nuclear program "we'll have to respond accordingly ... the options that are at America's disposal are, you know, they're familiar to all."

With reporting by Reuters

Media Review (View of the Day)
Titre Aval
Resistance museum Ashraf 3

Share your story

Send your Videos and Photos to us