Robert Malley, the Biden administration’s special envoy to Iran, was placed on unpaid leave Thursday for what he said was a “review” of his security clearance.

“I have been informed that my security clearance is under review,” Malley said in a statement. “I have not been provided any further information, but I expect the investigation to be resolved favorably and soon. In the meantime, I am on leave.”

Malley’s security clearance was suspended because of an investigation into his handling of classified information, according to an official familiar with the situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter. Asked whether the clearance was also suspended on Thursday or whether it happened before the move to unpaid leave, the official declined to comment.

Another official said that Malley had “no idea” what the investigation was about.

State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said only that “Rob Malley is on leave and Abram Paley is serving as acting Special Envoy for Iran and leading the Department’s work in this area.”

Malley’s at least temporary removal from the sensitive Iran post comes as the administration has been engaged in indirect, bilateral discussions with Tehran over its nuclear program and other issues. Begun several months ago, the talks — for which Oman has been serving as go-between — are an attempt to draw clear red lines and reverse what has been a steady escalation in tensions as Iran has increased its level of uranium enrichment to near weapons-grade and launched proxy attacks against U.S. forces in Syria.

Malley has maintained a direct channel of communications to Iran through its ambassador to the United Nations, although the talks in Oman have been led on the U.S. side by Brett McGurk, the Middle East coordinator at the National Security Council.

The administration also has an ongoing dialogue with Tehran, through the government of Switzerland, over three U.S. citizens it considers unjustly detained there on espionage charges.

Malley was a special assistant to President Barack Obama and Middle East coordinator for the NSC, and served as U.S. negotiator in talks that led to the 2015 nuclear agreement under which U.S. sanctions on Iran were eased in exchange for Tehran’s acceptance of restrictions and international monitoring of its nuclear program. The agreement fell apart when President Donald Trump withdrew U.S. participation in the deal in 2018. Trump reimposed sanctions, and Iran soon began to increase the purity of uranium it was enriching far beyond the bounds of the accord.

President Biden vowed during his campaign to return to the accord and quickly named Malley his special envoy for indirect negotiations through Britain, France and Germany, who were also signers of the 2015 nuclear deal, along with Russia and China. Those talks ceased last fall, however, when Iran rejected an offer from the United States and its allies. After months during which Iran continued to increase enrichment, the new bilateral, but still indirect, discussions were initiated. No substantive progress has yet been reported.

Malley also worked as a senior adviser to President Bill Clinton on Middle East policy and other issues.

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