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Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, left, accompanied by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, right, speaks at a joint news conference at the State Department in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)
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U.S., Israel say they are exploring a 'Plan B' for Iran

15 Comments
By MATTHEW LEE

The United States and Israel said Wednesday they are exploring a “Plan B” for dealing with Iran if the Islamic Republic does not return in good faith to negotiations to salvage the languishing landmark 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 come back into compliance with the agreement if the U.S. rejoins it.

They 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 up sanctions to covert or military actions. A Biden administration priority has been to revive the deal and abandoning that goal would be a blow to its foreign policy objectives.

The remarks were a rare acknowledgment by the U.S. that it is looking at what to do in the event diplomacy with Iran fails. Israel has never been a party to the nuclear deal, which former President Donald Trump withdrew from in 2018, and its former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was a vocal opponent of the agreement negotiated by the Obama administration.

Blinken and Lapid made the remarks at a joint news conference at the State Department with the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates at which all three agreed to try to expand on the so-called “Abraham Accords,” the Trump-era agreements that normalized relations between Israel and the UAE and other Arab states.

Their comments came as Iran has hinted it’s ready to return to indirect negotiations with the U.S. in Vienna but has not committed to a date. Iran has also continued to blow through limits on it nuclear activities that had been constrained by the deal.

Blinken reiterated that the window for Iran to return to the agreement is closing but again declined to give a date at which it would be too late. “Time is running short," he said. “We are prepared to turn to other options if Iran doesn’t change course, and these consultations with our allies and partners are part of it.”

“We will look at every option to to deal with the challenge posed by Iran," Blinken said. "And 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."

Lapid was more blunt, raising anew Israel's warnings that it will act, with military force if necessary, to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.

“There are moments when nations must use force to protect the world from evil,” he said. “If a terror regime is going to acquire a nuclear weapon we must act. We must make clear that the civilized world won’t allow it. If the Iranians don’t believe the world is serious about stopping them, they will race to the bomb.”

Lapid met on Tuesday in Washington with Vice President Kamala Harris as well as Biden's national security adviser Jake Sullivan to convey Israel's concerns about the U.S. rejoining the nuclear deal and restoring sanctions relief.

Those concerns appear to have struck a chord within the administration, which is loathe 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 doesn’t have constraints on its nuclear program and we have to consider options for dealing with that," Malley said at a virtual event hosted by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on Wednesday.

“We will be prepared to adjust to a different reality in which we have to deal with all options to address Iran’s nuclear program if it’s not prepared to come back,” 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."

Malley said he would be traveling soon to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar to discuss those options.

In addition to Iran, Blinken, Lapid and Emirati Foreign Minister Abdullah Bin Zayed also discussed the way ahead in Israeli-Arab relations after the sealing of the Abraham Accords just over a year ago. Bin Zayed said he would soon be visiting Israel, reciprocating a visit Lapid made to Abu Dhabi in June.

“I look forward to seeing you in Israel soon,” he said to Lapid. Lapid responded: “In Israel, the door is open to you. My wife is looking forward to having you over for dinner.”

All three ministers expressed a desire to expand the Abraham Accords and announced the creation of two new working groups: one that will look at religious co-existence and another that will focus on water and energy.

Bin Zayad also said he hoped that broader Arab-Israeli rapprochement could energize long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.

Blinken reaffirmed the Biden administration's commitment to a two-state solution being the best way to ensure the long-term survival of Israel as a democratic and Jewish nation as well as meeting Palestinian aspirations to have a country of their own.

But he demurred when asked for a timetable on the administration's stated intention of re-opening the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem. Israel is opposed to the re-opening of the consulate, arguing that Jerusalem is its capital, as recognized by the U.S., and that its permission is required to open any diplomatic mission there.

The consulate had long been the conduit for U.S. relations with the Palestinians until Trump closed it and merged its functions with the American Embassy, which he had moved to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv after breaking with long-standing U.S. policy and recognizing the holy city as Israel's capital.

Blinken said only that “we’ll be moving forward with the process of opening a consulate as part of a deepening of those ties with the Palestinians.” But, he did not specifically mention that the consulate would be in Jerusalem.

© Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.


15 Comments
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if the Islamic Republic does not return in good faith to negotiations to salvage the languishing landmark 2015 nuclear deal.

Good faith? They can hardly be blamed for not trusting the U.S. on this.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

BDS the human rights abusing Israeli regime.

-4 ( +8 / -12 )

Trump's undoings.

-1 ( +8 / -9 )

Those concerns appear to have struck a chord within the administration, which is loathe to appear less than supportive of [the zionist regime].

That seems to translate out as 'doesn't dare' and is absolutely outrageous. And given that the Iranis co-operated fully with and met EVERY obligation, both reasonable and unreasonable, agreed to in the JCPOA and that the 'loathing' AND CORRUPTION so apparent in the trump thugs was ONE reason for America breaking its promise, and the new inability of the zionists to lie about 'threat' was another, we can see that the deck is stacked against Iran whatever it does.

There is no honesty whatsoever here and America is being pressured by intimidation, payoffs, coercion, blackmail, and even murder into doing the zionist's dirty work for them to eliminate a potential rival and block in their expansionist plans. We see the character of the zionists everyday in their treatment of the Concentration Camps in which the Palestinian People are imprisoned and yet, somehow, cannot see what monsters they really are. And perhaps the worst part is that they claim to be "The Jews" just as ISIS claims to be Islam and try to hide among the Jewish People and claim 'anti-Semitism' when their entire program screams of blind, rabid hatred for Semitic Peoples which they are not unless all 'Roman' Catholics are somehow Italian.

American needs to cut these people loose and the sooner the better or many young Americans will be called to die for psychopaths.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

It was US that broke the deal. It is US that sanctions Iran. It is not diplomacy to go back on a deal and drive countries into the ground.

At the end of the day, it is pretty much an Israeli issue - so let them deal with it. It is Israel that threatens Iran every day, not the other way round. Israel says they’ll bomb the sites. Fine - I’d like to see it. Israel should walk it like she talks it. Don’t cry to me if, I don’t know, Tel Aviv gets bombed.

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

That's right. Blame Trump and Israel. After all, the Iranians are all about peace & love, right?

-2 ( +8 / -10 )

They were already good in grip even without that half-hearted treaty , while there still were military forces at the left in Iraq and at the right in Afghanistan. Now, with that idiotic withdrawal the controlling grip on Iran has been loosened completely. That error is of course much bigger than only having given Kabul to some Taliban.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

which former President Donald Trump withdrew from in 2018

Like an idiot.

4 ( +11 / -7 )

That's right. Blame Trump and Israel. After all, the Iranians are all about peace & love, right?

Same goes for US and Israel.. lol..

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

Same goes for US and Israel.. lol..

When did Iran bring democracy, women rights and racial equality into the forefront?

-2 ( +7 / -9 )

bass4funkToday  11:09 am JST

> When did Iran bring democracy, women rights and racial equality into the forefront?

When was the last time Iran invaded another country or bulldozed the territory of other’s? Hint: Long before the US and Israel have recently.

1 ( +8 / -7 )

From the article, you'd never know that it is the US who is completely out of any sort of compliance with the JCPOA, and that Iran actually is in compliance with the terms, because in the case of the noncompliance of the US-EU3 signatories, Iran is allowed to revert to the General Safeguards of the NNPT, which it has not violated.

You'd also have difficulty believing that the only nuclear rogue regime in the ME is Israel.

It is this sort of 'reporting' that makes baseless charges of 'fake news' against 'mainstream media' resonate with the climate change deniers, antivaaxers, antiMaskers, etc

2 ( +3 / -1 )

America is at fault for pulling out of a fully functioning and compliant treaty and instituting punitive sanctions for no good reason against one signatory and giving threats to the others (including allies).

Trump screwed the pooch on that one.

And Biden making it worse by not dropping the sanctions immediately and requesting to return to the treaty as originally signed.

Sorry to say that Iran has acted more reliably and honorably than America in this case.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

When folks who think Apartheid is democracy start proclaiming that a country where the ENTIRE population votes for and the vast majority of them say the resulting government is an accurate representation of the will of the people, well, credibility is definitely an issue.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This article can be summed up as: US pitches a fit that Iran has stopped honoring the deal the US unilaterally decided it didn’t want to be a part of. Demands Iran return to deal in exchange for nothing.

Iran was holding up its end of the bargain. Then the US decided to toss a grenade into the deal and had the audacity to act shocked when Iran went back to its nuclear program. “I get what I want and you get screwed” might work on contractors building Trump properties, but here in the real world, you don’t get to pull out of a deal and then expect everyone else to still abide by it.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

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