HomeWorldUS and Israel say they are exploring a 'Plan B' for Iran

US and Israel say they are exploring a ‘Plan B’ for Iran

WASHINGTON: The United States and Israel said Wednesday they are exploring a “Plan B” to deal with Iran if the Islamic Republic does not return in good faith to negotiations to salvage the languishing 2015 nuclear deal.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said discussions between their two countries have begun on “other options” should Iran reject an offer to rejoin the deal if the United States seizes. rejoin him.
They did not elaborate on what those options might be, but there are a wide range of non-diplomatic options that could be considered, from increased sanctions to covert or military action. A priority of the Biden administration has been to revive the agreement, and abandoning that goal would be a blow to its foreign policy goals.
The remarks were a rare acknowledgment by the United States that it is considering what to do if diplomacy with Iran fails. Israel has never been a party to the nuclear deal, from which former President Donald Trump withdrew in 2018, and his former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu openly opposed the deal brokered by the Obama administration.
Blinken and Lapid made the remarks at a joint press conference at the State Department with the UAE Foreign Minister in which the three agreed to try to expand the so-called “Abraham Accords,” the agreements of the era. Trump who normalized relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and other Arab states.
His comments came as Iran hinted that it is ready to return to indirect negotiations with the United States in Vienna, but has not committed to a date. Iran has also continued to push the limits of its nuclear activities that had been restricted by the agreement.
Blinken reiterated that the window for Iran to return to the deal is closing, but again refused to give a date when it would be too late. “Time is running out,” he said. “We are prepared to turn to other options if Iran does not change course, and these consultations with our allies and partners are part of that.”
“We will explore all options to meet the challenge posed by Iran,” Blinken said. “And we continue to believe that diplomacy is the most effective way to do it. But, it takes two to engage in diplomacy, and we have not seen in Iran the willingness to do that at this time. ”
Lapid was more forceful, again raising Israel’s warnings that it will act, with military force if necessary, to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.
“There are times when nations must use force to protect the world from evil,” he said. “If a terrorist regime is going to acquire a nuclear weapon, we must act. We must make it clear that the civilized world will not allow it. If the Iranians don’t believe the world is serious about stopping them, they will rush to the bomb. ”
Lapid met in Washington Tuesday with Vice President Kamala Harris, as well as Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, to convey Israel’s concerns about rejoining the United States into the nuclear deal and restoring sanctions relief. .
Those concerns seem to have struck a chord within the administration, which hates to appear less than supportive of Israel. Before Blinken and Lapid spoke, the administration’s special envoy for Iran negotiations, Robert Malley, made similar comments about exploring paths beyond diplomacy with Iran.
“We have to prepare for a world where Iran has no limitations on its nuclear program and we have to consider options to deal with that,” Malley said at a virtual event organized by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on Wednesday.
“We will be prepared to adjust to a different reality where we have to deal with all options to address Iran’s nuclear program if it is not prepared to return,” he said. “There is a good chance that Iran will choose a different path, and we need to coordinate with Israel and other partners in the region.”
Malley said he will soon travel to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar to discuss those options.
In addition to Iran, Blinken, Lapid and Emirati Foreign Minister Abdullah Bin Zayed also discussed the way forward in Arab-Israeli relations after the closure of the Abraham Accords just over a year ago. Bin Zayed said he would visit Israel soon, corresponding to a visit Lapid made to Abu Dhabi in June.
“I hope to see you in Israel soon,” he told Lapid. Lapid replied: “In Israel, the door is open for you. My wife is looking forward to inviting you to dinner. ”
The three ministers expressed their desire to expand the Abrahamic Accords and announced the creation of two new working groups: one that will analyze religious coexistence and another that will focus on water and energy.
Bin Zayad also said he hoped a broader Arab-Israeli rapprochement could energize long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.
Blinken reaffirmed the Biden administration’s commitment that a two-state solution is the best way to ensure Israel’s long-term survival as a democratic and Jewish nation, as well as to satisfy Palestinian aspirations for a country of its own.
But he objected when asked for a timetable on the administration’s stated intention to reopen the US Consulate in Jerusalem. Israel opposes the reopening of the consulate, arguing that Jerusalem is its capital, as recognized by the United States, and that its permission is required to open any diplomatic missions there.
The consulate had long been the conduit for US relations with the Palestinians until Trump shut it down and merged its functions with the US embassy, ​​which had moved to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv after breaking with long-standing US policy. and recognize the holy city. as the capital of Israel.
Blinken said only that “we will move forward with the process of opening a consulate as part of deepening those ties with the Palestinians.” But he did not specifically mention that the consulate would be in Jerusalem.


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