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Former Obama Official Says Despite 'Maximum Pressure' Iran Not Closer To Talks

Former U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman answers questions during her press conference at the US Embassy in Tokyo, January 30, 2015

The former U.S. Undersecretary Of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman on Wednesday said Trump administration's 'maximum pressure' has not brought Iran anywhere closer to negotiating with the United States.

Speaking at the virtual Aspen Security Forum where the U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook also delivered remarks on "Maximum Pressure: America's Strategy to Counter Iran", Sherman said the Trump decision to leave the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran in May 2018 has gotten the United States "to a really bad place".

“I appreciate that the Trump administration put the maximum pressure campaign and they indeed have, but what it has gotten them, and Brian [Hook] said this himself, is resistance," Sherman who negotiated the 2015 nuclear agreement said.

“Iran is now enriching at higher levels with more centrifuges. They are still supporting proxies in the region. They’re still abusing the rights of their own people. They are not a responsible player in the international community,” she was quoted by Jerusalem Post as saying at the forum.

Sherman charged that the Trump administration used a series of tactics the strategic objective of which was not clear. "The administration said it’s not regime change. And yet they said they’re creating leverage to get a better negotiation, but I think we all see that Iran is nowhere close to negotiating [with] the [Trump] administration," she said and added: "So we’re in a quite worse place”.

The Trump administration argues that the 2015 nuclear deal was a relatively short-term agreement which would not prevent Tehran from building nuclear weapons and "maximum pressure" now has put Iran in a much weaker position.

“For as long as Iran is allowed to enrich, we’re going to be having this discussion - how close is Iran to a nuclear breakout? ... We need to restore the U.N. Security Council standard of no enrichment,” Brian Hook told the Aspen Security Forum.

The U.N. Security Council will vote next week on a resolution proposed by the United States to extend its arms embargo on Iran, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday. The decision may spark a crisis in the Security Council as China and Russia, two of the Permanent Five with the right to veto, are likely to oppose the extension of the embargo.

The embargo will expire on October 18 as agreed in the 2015 nuclear agreement (JCPOA).

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    Maryam Sinaiee

    Maryam Sinaiee is a British-Iranian journalist, political analyst and former correspondent of The National, who contributes to Radio Farda.