A holdover from the Obama administration who helped broker the Iran nuclear deal continues to work in the Trump State Department as a member of the “policy planning staff,” according to her biography on the agency website.
“Prior to joining the Policy Planning Staff, she served as a Director for Iran and Iran Nuclear Implementation on the National Security Council Staff from 2014-2016,” Sahar Nowrouzzadeh’s bio states. “Sahar also previously served as a Foreign Affairs Officer at the U.S. Department of State and a Team Chief and Senior Analyst at the Department of Defense.”
In an October 2016, Nowrouzzadeh was interviewed by the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA), which introduced her by stating that she “was part of President Obama’s team responsible for supporting the P5+1 nuclear negotiations with Iran, which ultimately resulted in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.”
“She just recently returned to the U.S. Department of State and is serving on the Secretary of State’s Policy Planning Staff and is responsible for the Iran portfolio,” the introduction states.
In the interview, Nowrouzzadeh was asked: “As a foreign affairs expert, focusing on your new role on the Secretary of State’s Policy Planning Staff, where do you believe the relations between the United States and Iran are going? Do you think the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) will be successful in the long-term?”
“I can’t make any specific predictions but I am personally hopeful that over time and as all JCPOA participants continue to meet their commitments, we will be able to not just uphold the JCPOA, but perhaps also expand our diplomatic dialogue with Iran,” Nowrouzzadeh said. “Now, that doesn’t mean that we won’t continue to have serious differences with Iran. And I think both the United States and Iran recognize that we share a difficult and complicated history. But it demonstrates, as was the case with the nuclear negotiations, that both sides are prepared to focus on the future as opposed to dwelling on the past and that they are prepared to engage on the basis of mutual respect in order to potentially clear up misunderstandings, explain respective positions, reach compromises, and find solutions to complex issues through diplomacy. Perhaps three years ago, no one would have thought that we could have, through constructive diplomacy, broken counterproductive taboos and reached a nuclear deal that verifiably prevents Iran from developing a nuclear weapon and provides Iran with much needed economic sanctions relief.”
Nowrouzzadeh was also asked: “Given the sentiment we’ve seen in this election cycle, are you concerned about American politics interfering with the United States’ relationship with Iran or the JCPOA?”
“As is the case in many countries, a variety of viewpoints are expressed in the lead up to a presidential election,” Nowrouzzadeh said. “Ultimately, the JCPOA is an understanding reached by the entire P5+1, the European Union and Iran, and backed by the majority of the international community. It is in the entire international community’s interest to continue to implement the JCPOA and, so long as Iran is fully meeting its nuclear commitments, the United States will continue to uphold its commitments under the deal as well.”
Critics have alleged that NIAC is a lobby for the current Iranian dictatorship under Ayatollah Khamenei. A dissident journalist revealed recently that NIAC’s president and founder, Trita Parsi, has maintained a years-long relationship with Iranian Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif.