RFE/RL
View
IRAN
Biden's Top Diplomat Pick Says U.S. Seeks 'Stronger' Iran Nuclear Deal, Condemns Russia Over Navalny Arrest
January 20, 2021 01:16 GMT
By Todd Prince
Antony Blinken
16
WASHINGTON -- President-elect Joe Biden’s secretary of state nominee said the incoming administration would seek a “longer and stronger” nuclear agreement with Iran as he laid out a foreign-policy vision for the next four years.

However, Antony Blinken also said Washington is a “long way” from reaching a new accord with Tehran, echoing comments made earlier in the day by Biden’s pick to lead the nation’s spy bureaucracy, Avril Haines.

“We would have to see, once the president is in office, what steps Iran actually takes” and evaluate whether “they're coming back into compliance with their obligations,” Blinken told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during his confirmation hearing on January 19.

Biden has said he would like the United States to rejoin the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that limits Iran’s nuclear program, if Tehran returns to compliance with the deal.

Iran has gradually breached its nuclear commitments in response to President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrawing Washington from the agreement in 2018.

Blinken said the 2015 agreement would be “a platform” for a “longer and stronger agreement” that would include other issues such as Iran’s missile program and malign activities.

Iran has repeatedly said its missile program and regional policies are off the table, demanding instead the United States comply with its JCPOA commitments and reverse sanctions. Tehran says its nuclear program is strictly for civilian purposes.

Blinken is well-versed in the details of the 2015 nuclear agreement, having previously served as deputy national-security adviser from 2013 to 2015 and deputy secretary of state from 2015 to 2017 when President Barack Obama’s administration joined world powers in the JCPOA.

The 58-year-old said the Trump administration’s assassination last year of top Iranian military leader Qasem Soleimani has left the United States “less safe.”

Blinken pointed to Iran’s missile attack following the assassination that left dozens of U.S. soldiers with brain injuries and the possible closure of the U.S. Embassy in Iraq due to security threats emanating from Iran.

Senators on the panel also questioned Blinken on Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, and China during the more than three-hour confirmation hearing.

Blinken condemned Russia’s arrest of Aleksei Navalny, saying it is a sign of “how frightened [President] Vladimir Putin” is of the Kremlin critic.

He said the leading opposition figure speaks for “millions and millions of Russians” and that “their voice needs to be heard.”

In other comments, Blinken said he backed inviting Georgia into the NATO military alliance, if the former Soviet republic meets the requirements. Russia adamantly opposes Georgia ever joining NATO and maintains troops in two Moscow-backed breakaway regions that comprise about 20 percent of Georgian territory, in what Tbilisi considers an occupation.

Blinken rejected the view of Senator Rand Paul (Republican-Kentucky) that expanding NATO could lead to war with Russia, saying Moscow risked invading its southern neighbor in 2008 precisely because it was not part of the Western military alliance.

He also said he backed giving Ukraine lethal weapons to defend itself against Russian aggression while serving in the Obama administration. Obama did not give the green light for deliveries of lethal weapons though, Trump did.
However, Blinken warned U.S. efforts to support Ukraine must include fighting corruption.

“We have to help the Ukrainians deal with that too because even if we're successful in at least helping them keep Russia at bay, if that threat from within continues, then it's going to be very difficult for them to build a viable democracy,” he said.

Blinken said he supported the outgoing Trump administration’s decision earlier in the day to label China’s treatment of Muslim Uyghurs and other minority groups in Xinjiang province a “genocide.”

“Forcing men, women, and children into concentration camps, trying to in effect reeducate them to be adherents to the ideology of the Chinese Communist Party. All of that speaks to an effort to commit genocide,” said Blinken.
Todd Prince is a senior correspondent for RFE/RL based in Washington, D.C. He lived in Russia from 1999 to 2016, working as a reporter for Bloomberg News and an investment adviser for Merrill Lynch. He has traveled extensively around Russia, Ukraine, and Central Asia.
FOLLOW
SUBSCRIBE VIA RSS
Editors' Picks
In Tbilisi's Mayoral Race, A Nigerian-Born Candidate Draws Attention And Racist Reactions
Uzbekistan Has Good Reasons To Be On Good Terms With The Taliban
Firms Linked To KazTransGas Chairman Landed Billions In Kazakh Gas Deals
Afghan Students In Tajikistan Face An Uncertain Future
'We Are The Dead Who Can't Think Of Dying': Iranian Rapper Charged For Criticizing Regime 

Story Alerts
Sign up here to be notified by e-mail when we publish investigations and compelling stories that you won’t want to miss. These alerts are infrequent and include personal insights by the reporters and editors involved.
E-mail Address
I hereby give consent to RFE/RL to use my e-mail address for the purpose of sending me the selected newsletter(s)
You can find our privacy policy and terms of use here.
Top Trending
1
Gunman Kills Six In Russian University Shooting Rampage
2Rotting Placentas Overflow From Freezers At Kosovo's Biggest Hospital
3
Poland Claims Mounting Evidence Minsk, Moscow Orchestrating Migrant Flow Across Border
4European Rights Court Rules Russia Responsible For Litvinenko Death
5
A Win For United Russia? A Loss For Navalny's Smart Voting? Five Takeaways From Russia's Elections
More to read and watch...
'We Are The Dead Who Can't Think Of Dying': Iranian Rapper Charged For Criticizing Regime 
Latest Iran News
U.S. Official Signals Iran Frustrations, Worries About Tehran's 'Plan B'
Iran Says Nuclear Talks To Resume In Vienna 'Soon'
EU's Borrell Says No Ministerial Meeting Planned At UN On Iran Nuclear Talks
Iran's Khamenei Tells Olympic Medalists That Athletes Must Boycott Sports With Israelis
Iran Approves Use Of U.S-Made Johnson & Johnson Coronavirus Vaccine
Iran Urged To Answer IAEA Questions On Undeclared Sites
Iraqi PM Visits Tehran For Economic-Cooperation Talks
Iran To Allow IAEA Monitors To Service Cameras At Sensitive Nuclear Sites
UN Nuclear Watchdog Chief Heads To Iran To Salvage Nuclear Talks
U.S. Warns Time Running Out On Return To Iran Nuclear Deal After Raisi Counters IAEA Charge
IAEA Says Iran Blocking Access To Nuclear Sites, Still Boosting Enrichment
Features
'I Don't Feel Safe': Iranian Journalist Pressured By IRGC After Fleeing To Turkey
Hacked Videos Force The Unthinkable In Iran: Official Admission Of Abuses At Evin Prison
Iran Treading Cautiously Amid The Taliban Takeover Of Afghanistan
Iran Faces 'Tsunami' Of COVID-19 Infections, Deaths
Iran's Next Foreign Minister: A Diplomat With An 'IRGC Attitude'
Iranians Fear Turning Into Another 'North Korea' If Draconian Internet Censorship Bill Passes
Videos & Photo Galleries
Tehran Prison Abuse Revealed In Security Footage Leak
Protests Spread In Iran Over Water Shortages, Economic Troubles
Iran, Pakistan, India Join Russian Naval Parade
'Don't Shoot!': Protesters Brave Bullets As Demonstrations Shake Iran
Iran At Risk Of COVID-19 Fifth Wave As Homegrown Vaccine Campaign Stalls
Iranian Presidential Election: Videos Of Polling Stations Show Low Voter Turnout
FOLLOW US
QUICK HITS
BROWSE
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty © 2021 RFE/RL, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
To comment on a portion of text or report a mistake or typo, select the text in the article and press Ctrl + Enter (or click here). Please include your e-mail address.
Skip to main contentSkip to main NavigationSkip to Search
RUSSIATATAR-BASHKIRNORTH CAUCASUSIRANKAZAKHSTANKYRGYZSTANTAJIKISTANTURKMENISTANUZBEKISTANGANDHARAARMENIAAZERBAIJANGEORGIABOSNIABULGARIAHUNGARYKOSOVOMOLDOVAMONTENEGRONORTH MACEDONIAROMANIASERBIABELARUSUKRAINEVISUALSINVESTIGATIONSCHINA IN EURASIA BY REID STANDISHSTEVE GUTTERMAN'S WEEK IN RUSSIAQISHLOQ OVOZI BY BRUCE PANNIER: EVENTS SHAPING CENTRAL ASIAWATCHDOG: MONITORING HUMAN RIGHTSTHE WEEK AHEAD IN RUSSIAMAJLIS: TALKING CENTRAL ASIACURRENT TIMECORONAVIRUSCRISIS IN BELARUSTHE FALL OF THE U.S.S.R.ABOUTPRESSROOM