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Blinken says US ready to turn to “other options” if nuclear diplomacy with Iran fails

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He discussed what the United States would do if Tehran did not return to international talks during meetings in Washington with its counterparts from Israel and the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday.

The Biden administration says it is ready to return to the diplomatic table every day and resume talks in Vienna, which have stalled for more than three months. The break-up began after tough new Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi took office.

“We continue to believe that diplomacy is the most effective way to do this, but it takes two people to engage in diplomacy, and we have not seen from Iran a willingness to do so at this point,” Blinken said in a statement. joint press conference with Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan at the State Department before their meetings.

Blinken stressed that the window for diplomacy with Tehran is closing “because Iran has used this time to advance its nuclear program in various ways.”

“I will not set a specific date, but with each passing day and Iran’s refusal to engage in good faith, the track is shortened,” Blinken said.

With the window for a diplomatic opportunity narrowing, the Biden administration is holding discussions about unforeseen options to curb Iran’s nuclear program with partners and allies.

The US envoy to Iran travels to the Middle East for talks

US special envoy to Iran Robert Malley will visit the Middle East in the coming days to resume talks with his counterparts in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, he said early Wednesday.

“We have to prepare for a world that we are doing now in consultation with our partners in the region – a world where Iran has no restrictions on its nuclear program. And we have to consider the options to deal with that. , that’s what we’re doing, although we hope we can get back to the deal, “Malley said during an event at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Blinken reiterated the U.S. position that “that Iran cannot be allowed to acquire a nuclear weapon” when asked if a military option would be on the table if diplomacy is unsuccessful.

Lapid added, “By saying ‘other options,’ I think everyone here, in Israel, in the UAE and in Tehran, understands what we mean.”

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During a speech to the UN General Assembly last month, Raisi insisted that Iran was not pursuing nuclear weapons, that the US was guilty of pulling out of the nuclear deal, and stressed that the US must first meet its obligations. under the agreement, lifting sanctions.

Raisi also said that Iranian officials are ready to resume talks on an agreement with Iran soon. Malley said Iran’s actions show they may not be ready to return to compliance with the Iran nuclear deal, which the US abandoned under President Donald Trump.

“Every day where they are not returning to the table, every day where they are making statements about how little has been achieved in Vienna, which is what the current team is saying, it is telling us that this is a team that may not be prepared. to return to what we would consider, what the rest of the P5 + 1 would consider, full reciprocal return in line with the JCPOA, “Malley said, referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the official name for agreement.

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The U.S. is prepared for the possibility of protracted talks that do not focus solely on the deal with Iran, Malley said. But he stressed that the US would engage in those discussions only if Iran is willing to engage in discussions that are not one-sided.

“If Iran is going to come back to the table, whenever they go back to the seventh round and put on the table issues that clearly go beyond the borders of the JCPOA, and that ‘s kind of what we’re hearing, I mean we could be wrong. “But that ‘s what we’re hearing, then we’re prepared to have a negotiation for another kind of deal,” Malley said. “An agreement that would address more issues than the JCPOA. But Iran will have to make a choice and it cannot have it in either way. It cannot mean that the US should give more than the JCPOA and “Iran is going to give only what the JCPOA requires, or maybe even less.”

CNN’s Jennifer Hansler contributed to this story.

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