The United States and Israel said on Wednesday they were exploring a “Plan B” to deal with Iran if the Islamic Republic does not return to talks in good faith to save the historic 2015 nuclear deal.
Foreign Minister Antony Blinken and Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said their two countries have begun discussions on “other options” if Iran rejects a proposal to return to compliance with the deal if the US joins. goes.
He did not elaborate on what those options might be, but there are a wide range of non-diplomatic options that could be considered, ranging from stepped sanctions to covert or military action. A Biden administration priority has been to revive the deal and dropping that goal would be a blow to its foreign policy objectives.
The remarks were a rare acknowledgment by the US that it is looking at what to do if diplomacy with Iran fails. Israel has never been a party to a nuclear deal, which former President Donald Trump withdrew in 2018, and its former prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has been a vocal opponent of the deal made by the Obama administration.
Blinken and Lapid made the remarks at a joint news conference at the State Department with the UAE foreign minister, in which the three agreed to try to expand on the so-called “Abraham Agreement”, a Trump-era agreement that normalized Relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and other Arab states.
His remarks came as Iran has indicated it is ready to return to indirect talks with the US in Vienna, but has not committed to a date. Iran has also continued to break the limits of its nuclear activities that were hampered by the deal.
Blinken reiterated that the window for Iran to return to the deal was closing but again declined to give a date that would be too late. “Time is running out,” he said. “If Iran does not change its course, we are ready to turn to other options, and these consultations with our allies and partners are part of that.”
“We will consider every option to deal with the challenge posed by Iran,” Blinken said. “And we believe that diplomacy is the most effective way to do this. But, engaging in diplomacy requires two, and we have not seen a willingness to do so from Iran at this time.”
Lapid was more blunt, reiterating Israel’s warnings that it would act with military force if necessary to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
“There are moments when nations must use force to save the world from evil,” he said. “We must act if a terrorist regime is going to acquire nuclear weapons. We have to make it clear that the civilized world will not allow this. If the Iranians don’t believe the world is serious about stopping them, they run for the bomb.
Lapid met Vice President Kamala Harris as well as Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan in Washington on Tuesday and conveyed Israel’s concerns about re-joining the US nuclear deal and restoring sanctions relief.
Those concerns seem to have struck a chord within the administration, which hates what appears to be less than Israel’s support. Before Blinken and Lapid spoke, the administration’s special envoy for Iran talks, Robert Mali, made similar remarks about exploring ways beyond diplomacy with Iran.
“We have to prepare for a world where there are no constraints on Iran’s nuclear program and we need to consider options to deal with it,” Malee said at a virtual event hosted by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on Wednesday.
“We will be ready to adjust to a different reality in which we have to deal with all options to address Iran’s nuclear program if it is not ready to back down,” he said. “There is every possibility that Iran will choose a different path, and we need to coordinate with Israel and other partners in the region.”
Malee said he would 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 Israel-Arab ties after the Abrahamic Agreement was sealed a year ago. Bin Zayed said he would soon visit Israel in return for a Lapid visit to Abu Dhabi in June.
“I look forward to seeing you in Israel soon,” he told Lapid. Lapid replied: “In Israel, the door is open for you. My wife is looking forward to taking you to dinner.”
The three ministers expressed a desire to expand the Abrahamic Agreement and announced the creation of two new working groups: one that would look at religious coexistence and another that would focus on water and energy.
Bin Zayed also said he hoped broader Arab-Israeli relations could energize long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.
Blinken reaffirmed the Biden administration’s commitment to a two-state solution, which is the best way to ensure Israel’s long-term existence as a democratic and Jewish nation, as well as to meet Palestinian aspirations.
But he deferred when asked for a timetable on the administration’s alleged intention to reopen the US consulate in Jerusalem. Israel is opposing the reopening of the consulate, arguing that Jerusalem is its capital, as recognized by the US, and that any diplomatic missions there need its permission to open.
The consulate had long been a conduit for US relations with the Palestinians until Trump closed it and merged its functions with the US embassy, which he considered to be a breach of long-standing US policy and sacrilege. They moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem after the city was recognized as Israel. Capital.
Blinken only said that “we will proceed with the process of opening a consulate …