US tells Israel it’s still committed to Iranian diplomacy but has options if it fails
President Joe Biden’s national security adviser on Tuesday told his Israeli counterpart that diplomacy was the best way to curb Iran’s nuclear program, while reaffirming Biden’s warning to Tehran that Washington could turn to other options if negotiations fail.
Biden’s senior aide Jake Sullivan hosted Israeli national security adviser Eyal Hulata for talks which a US official said gave the two allies a chance to share intelligence and develop a “baseline assessment. “of the advancement of Tehran’s nuclear program.
As part of a 2015 deal, Iran limited its uranium enrichment program, a possible route to nuclear weapons, in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. Then-US President Donald Trump resigned from the deal in 2018 and the Israeli government is opposing US efforts to revive it.
US experts believe the time it would take Iran to achieve a nuclear “breakthrough” – enough enriched uranium to build a nuclear bomb – has “fallen from around 12 months to a period of around a few months. Since Trump withdrew from the pact, the US official said earlier, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Iran, Israel’s nemesis, has always denied that it is developing a nuclear bomb.
Sullivan in Tuesday’s talks “underscored President Biden’s fundamental commitment to Israel’s security and to ensuring Iran never obtains a nuclear weapon,” the White House said in a statement.
“Mr. Sullivan explained that this administration believes diplomacy is the best way to achieve this goal, while noting that the president has made it clear that if diplomacy fails, the United States is ready to turn to other options, ”he added.
Sullivan’s comments echoed the message Biden gave Prime Minister Naftali Bennett during a White House meeting in August.
Tuesday’s meeting of the US-Israel Strategic Advisory Group included military, intelligence and diplomatic officials and took place amid stalled international diplomacy with Iran.
Western powers have been trying for weeks to get Tehran to commit to resuming indirect negotiations with the United States in Vienna. Talks have been on hold since June, after extremist cleric Ebrahim Raisi was elected Iran’s president, and Tehran has been vague on when he could return to the table.
US officials declined to say what actions are being considered if diplomacy with Iran collapses.
When asked if this included military options, the senior US official, who briefed reporters ahead of Tuesday’s talks, said only that “we will be ready to take the necessary steps.”
Behind Tehran’s blockade lies an attempt to get more concessions when negotiations finally resume, some officials and analysts have said, including advancing its uranium enrichment program.
Bennett, who ended Benjamin Netanyahu’s 12-year tenure as prime minister in June, has made it clear he wants Biden to harden his stance against Iran, which Israel sees as an existential threat.