Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenBlinken speaks with Sudan's prime minister after African leader's detainment Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by Boeing — Afghanistan reckoning shows no signs of stopping Senate confirms four Biden ambassadors after delay MORE, alongside his counterparts from Israel and the United Arab Emirates, said Wednesday that other options for dealing with Iran’s nuclear program are on the table if diplomacy fails.
The secretary issued a warning for Tehran that time is running out for a return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the Obama-era nuclear agreement that imposed strict oversight on Iran’s nuclear activity in exchange for sanctions relief.
“The runway that we have left to do that is getting shorter and shorter and so we're watching Iran's comments, posture, very, very carefully,” Blinken said in remarks to the press following a trilateral meeting with the foreign ministers of Israel and the UAE.
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid issued a more blunt warning to Iran.
“By saying other options I think everybody understand, here, in Israel, in the Emirates, and in Tehran, what is it that we mean,” Lapid said.
Israel is widely believed to be behind multiple clandestine attacks against Iran’s nuclear facilities and its scientists. The Islamic Republic in April blamed Israel for sabotage at its Natanz nuclear facility, and in June for a foiled attack at a site in the city of Karaj.
The New York Times reported last month that the assassination of a top Iranian nuclear scientist in November 2020 was carried out by Israeli operatives using a remote-controlled machine gun.
“Secretary State Blinken and I are sons of Holocaust survivors, we know there are moments when nations must use force to protect the world from evil,” Lapid continued.
“Israel reserves the right to act at any given moment in any way, it’s not only our right, it’s also our responsibility. Iran has publicly stated it wants to wipe us out. We have no intention of letting this happen.”
Blinken said that the U.S. supports Israel’s right to defend itself and blamed Iran for failing to return for a seventh round of indirect talks in Vienna over efforts to bring both parties back to the JCPOA.
Iran, which maintains that its nuclear activities are for peaceful purposes, has delayed a return to Vienna over demands that the U.S. lift all sanctions as well as since transitioning to a new government and inaugurating a new president in August.
Former President TrumpDonald TrumpJan. 6 panel plans to subpoena Trump lawyer who advised on how to overturn election Texans chairman apologizes for 'China virus' remark Biden invokes Trump in bid to boost McAuliffe ahead of Election Day MORE withdrew the U.S. from the deal in 2018 and Iran began violating the terms of the agreement in 2019 in what it said was a response to the reimposition of American sanctions.
The Biden administration launched efforts to return to the deal beginning in April, but has in recent weeks raised concerns that Iran’s nuclear activities, including enriching uranium far beyond the limits of the deal, spinning more advanced centrifuges and advancing its ballistic missiles program.
“With every passing day, and Iran's refusal to engage in good faith, the runway gets short,” Blinken said.
“And so, as the foreign minister said, we are discussing this among ourselves, and we will look at every option to deal with the challenge posed by Iran. We continue to believe that diplomacy is the most effective way to do that. But it takes two to engage in diplomacy, and we have not seen, from Iran, a willingness to do that at this point.”