Speaking at a press briefing on Tuesday, US State Department spokesman Ned Price said the previous administration left behind a “terrible set of options” including its escalations towards the Islamic Republic.
“The maximum pressure campaign was an abject failure. Everything that it promised, the opposite ended up coming true,” Price said.
He maintained that the Trump administration failed to strike a “better deal” with Iran, contain Iran’s regional influence, halt Iran’s nuclear program, and bring the world together to impose maximalist demands on Iran.
“Across all of those areas, the opposite came true,” he reiterated.
Trump launched what he called the maximum pressure policy against Iran in 2018 after he pulled the US out of the 2015 multilateral agreement with Tehran, claiming he could “get a better deal” than the one reached under his predecessor Barack Obama.
The former American president declared that he intended to compel Iran to negotiate a deal that would restrict the Islamic Republic’s ballistic missile program and its influence in its own region.
Iran flatly refused to negotiate a “Trump deal” and rejected his repeated calls to hold talks at any level. As tensions soared to the highest levels in decades with the tightening of US sanctions, Iran started in 2019 to reduce its nuclear obligations under the deal as per its contractual rights.
“We inherited an Iranian nuclear program that was galloping ahead, that has continued to gallop ahead, and an Iranian nuclear program that was not subject, unfortunately, to the most stringent verification and monitoring regime ever negotiated, and a verification and monitoring regime that was working, and verifiably so – working according to the State Department, working according to our Intelligence Community, working according to the IAEA, working according to our allies and partners,” Price explained.
“So having inherited a very difficult and challenging – terrible, even – set of options, we’ve set about a path that we believe is in our national security interests, and that is a mutual return to compliance with the JCPOA,” he added, using an acronym of the deal – the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
Multilateral talks have been underway for almost ten months during the Biden administration, who had vowed to re-enter the agreement. In spite of his criticisms of the “failed maximum pressure” campaign, Biden has not only kept all the sanctions imposed under Trump, but has also unleashed new ones.
Tehran has continued to reject direct negotiations with the US over its unilateral withdrawal from the JCPOA and refusal to remove its illegal sanctions.