US envoy headed to Gulf to discuss ‘options’ on Iran’s nuclear program
With the Vienna talks stalled, US officials are warning that they have other ways to rein in Iran's nuclear enrichment.
ANDREW HARNIK/POOL/AFP via Getty Images
October 14, 2021
The lead US envoy on international negotiations with Iran to limit Tehran’s nuclear program will head to the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Saudi Arabia in a few days to discuss backup plans with Washington’s allies should the negotiations fail.
During a think-tank event in Washington on Wednesday, Special Envoy Rob Malley struck a cautious tone in discussing the Biden administration’s ambitions to returning to a nuclear agreement 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 said at an event 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 said, acknowledging that Iran’s newly elected government may choose a “different path.” US officials are expressing increasing impatience as Tehran has promised to return to the table in Vienna “soon
But time is running short to return to the limited accord, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said today after meeting with his Israeli and Emirati counterparts
As Israeli officials grow increasingly concerned about Iran’s nuclear enrichment, Biden administration officials have begun floating vague references to unspecified “other options” to limit Iran’s ambitions should the negotiations fail.
The US’ top diplomat chose to remain vague Wednesday about whether the US maintains a military option to strike Iran’s nuclear program, but hinted at the possibility.
“Israel has the right to defend itself, and we strongly support that proposition,” Blinken said during a press conference following his meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Emirati Foreign Affairs Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Emphasizing the Biden administration’s preference for diplomacy, Blinken said, “We are prepared to turn to other options if Iran doesn't change course.”
The US envoy's visit to the Gulf will also focus on contingencies “to control Iran’s nuclear program if we can’t achieve that goal” with negotiations.
The Pentagon has also remained vague on the subject, with Press Secretary John Kirby saying yesterday only that the military supports the State Department’s diplomatic efforts while continuing to ensure that “militarily, we’re able to meet our security commitments to our interests and to those of our allies and partners.”
Malley pushed back on reports
of the emerging gap between the US and its Middle Eastern allies, in particular Israel, over the Iranian nuclear issue on Wednesday.
“At this point we’re finding a greater commonality of view,” Malley said. “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 also signaled support for talks between Iran and its main rivals in the Gulf, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
“We think that’s a good thing if that is accompanied by de-escalation,” Malley said.
MORE FROM AL-MONITOR STAFF
Netflix series awakens ghosts of past for Turkey's Jews
Nazlan Ertan | Turkey | Nov 16, 2021
Egypt weighs impact of Ethiopia's civil war
Baher al-Kady | Egypt | Nov 20, 2021
Oman invests in ports with eye to becoming Gulf gateway
Sebastian Castelier | Gulf | Nov 19, 2021
AI played 'big role' in approach to pandemic, says UAE artificial intelligence minister
Week in Review | Gulf | Nov 19, 2021
Turkey's war of attrition against Syria's Kurds
Amberin Zaman | Syria | Nov 17, 2021
Iran official says Tehran relied on prior agreements at Vienna talks
Al-Monitor Staff | Iran | Dec 6, 2021
How feasible is Raisi’s economic roadmap for Iran?
Bijan Khajehpour | Iran | Dec 4, 2021
Israel weighs options, timing of possible military strike on Iran
Week in Review | Israel | Dec 3, 2021
Iran's Quds Force chief warns US as hopes for nuclear accord fade
Al-Monitor Staff | Iran | Dec 3, 2021
Raz Zimmt: Trump-Netanyahu’s Iran strategy pushed Tehran in the wrong direction
Michael Kofman explains why Moscow backs the Iran nuclear deal and why Iran-Russia tensions in Syria are overstated
Digital entrepreneur Yonatan Adiri: Israel could double GDP with startup advancement
Don’t rule out eventual Erdogan-Assad reconciliation over shared fear of Kurds, says Amberin Zaman
Israeli environment minister: Country at high risk over climate change
© 2021 Al-Monitor, LLC. All rights reserved.