US envoy headed to Gulf to debate ‘options’ on Iran’s nuclear program

The lead US envoy on worldwide negotiations with Iran to restrict Tehran’s nuclear program will head to the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Saudi Arabia in just a few days to debate backup plans with Washington’s allies ought to the negotiations fail.

During a think-tank occasion in Washington on Wednesday, Special Envoy Rob Malley struck a cautious tone in discussing the Biden administration’s ambitions to returning to a nuclear settlement with Tehran.

“Everything we hear from our partners … about their concerns they have about Iran’s nuclear program, all of those have been not only exacerbated but created by the withdrawal from the JCPOA,” Malley mentioned at an occasion hosted by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, in reference to the Trump administration’s abandonment of the deal in 2018.

“So, we thought that coming back in would still be the best outcome, but we’re realistic,” Malley mentioned, acknowledging that Iran’s newly elected authorities might select a “different path.” US officers are expressing rising impatience as Tehran has promised to return to the desk in Vienna “soon.”

But time is operating quick to return to the restricted accord, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken mentioned in the present day after assembly along with his Israeli and Emirati counterparts.

As Israeli officers develop more and more involved about Iran’s nuclear enrichment, Biden administration officers have begun floating imprecise references to unspecified “other options” to restrict Iran’s ambitions ought to the negotiations fail.

The US’ prime diplomat selected to stay imprecise Wednesday about whether or not the US maintains a army choice to strike Iran’s nuclear program, however hinted on the risk.

“Israel has the right to defend itself, and we strongly support that proposition,” Blinken mentioned throughout a press convention following his assembly with Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Emirati Foreign Affairs Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Emphasizing the Biden administration’s desire for diplomacy, Blinken mentioned, “We are prepared to turn to other options if Iran doesn’t change course.”

Blinken mentioned simply such choices with Lapid in the present day, Malley prompt throughout the think-tank occasion.

The US envoy’s go to to the Gulf will even concentrate on contingencies “to control Iran’s nuclear program if we can’t achieve that goal” with negotiations.

A senior Israeli protection official instructed Al-Monitor final week that Israeli officers are more and more apprehensive that the Biden administration has not developed joint operational plans to strike at Iran’s nuclear program, ought to Tehran advance its stockpiles too far.

The Pentagon has additionally remained imprecise on the topic, with Press Secretary John Kirby saying yesterday solely that the army helps the State Department’s diplomatic efforts whereas persevering with to make sure that “militarily, we’re able to meet our security commitments to our interests and to those of our allies and partners.”

Malley pushed again on studies of the rising hole between the US and its Middle Eastern allies, particularly Israel, over the Iranian nuclear problem on Wednesday.

“At this point we’re finding a greater commonality of view,” Malley mentioned. “The more we are in sync with our partners … the better off we are, because we can work as one in trying to address what is a common problem.”

The US envoy additionally signaled assist for talks between Iran and its most important rivals within the Gulf, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

“We think that’s a good thing if that is accompanied by de-escalation,” Malley mentioned.

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