Biden aides to tell Israelis U.S. will pursue ‘other avenues’ if Iran diplomacy fails

Washington, Oct. 5 (BNA): Senior US officials will tell their Israeli counterparts on Tuesday that the Biden administration remains committed to diplomacy with Iran, but that if necessary it will be willing to pursue “other avenues” to ensure that Tehran does not obtain nuclear weapons. weapon, a senior US official said.

The official said that a visit to Washington by Israel’s national security adviser, Eyal Holata, would allow the two allies to share intelligence and develop a “baseline assessment” of the progress of Tehran’s nuclear program.

Under a 2015 deal, Iran scaled back its uranium enrichment program, a potential pathway to obtaining nuclear weapons, in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. Reuters reported that US President Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement in 2018, and the Israeli government opposes US efforts to revive it.

In broad terms, US experts believe that the time it will take for Iran to achieve a nuclear “breakthrough” – enough enriched uranium for a nuclear bomb – has “reduced from about 12 months to a period of about a few months” since Trump withdrew, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. His identity The agreement.

“Obviously, this is very concerning,” the official told reporters ahead of Holata’s talks with US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.

Iran has consistently denied that it is developing nuclear weapons.

Echoing President Joe Biden’s comments at a White House meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in August, the official said, “We of course remain committed to the diplomatic track.”

“But obviously if that doesn’t work, there are other avenues to pursue, and we are fully committed to ensuring that Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon.”

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Asked what measures were being considered and whether that included military options, the official said, “We will be ready to take the necessary measures,” but did not elaborate.

The official said Iran was “sending signals to a number of parties that it is preparing to return to Vienna,” where the United States and Iran held indirect talks earlier this year that were suspended.

But on Saturday, Iran’s foreign minister said, noting that obstacles remained, the United States should first release $10 billion in Tehran’s frozen funds as a sign of goodwill, something the Biden administration has shown no willingness to do.

Bennett, the far-right politician who ended Benjamin Netanyahu’s 12-year tenure as prime minister in June, has made clear he wants Biden to toughen his stance against Iran, Israel’s arch regional enemy.

There is also disagreement over Biden’s opposition to further expansion of Jewish settlements on occupied land that the Palestinians want for their future state.

Asked if the issue would be part of Tuesday’s talks, the US official said that Israel was well aware of the administration’s view that it should refrain from actions that could be considered “provocative” and undermine efforts to achieve a two-state solution between Israel. and the Palestinians.

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