US, Israel say they explore ‘plan B’ for Iran

WASHINGTON (AP) – The United States and Israel said on Wednesday they were exploring a “plan B” to deal with Iran if the Islamic Republic did not return in good faith to negotiations to save the landmark 2015 nuclear deal .

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said talks between their two countries have started on “other options” if Iran rejects an offer to come back into compliance with the deal if the United States joined him. They did not specify what those options might be, but there is a wide range of non-diplomatic options that could be considered, ranging from increased sanctions to covert or military actions.

The remarks were a rare recognition by the United States that it is seeking what to do if diplomacy with Iran fails. Israel has never been a party to the nuclear deal, from which former President Donald Trump withdrew in 2018, and its former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been a vocal opponent of the deal brokered by the administration Obama.

Blinken and Lapid made the remarks during a joint State Department press conference with the UAE Foreign Minister in which all three agreed to try to expand the so-called ” Abraham’s Accords, ”the Trump-era accords that normalized relations between Israel and the UAE and other Arab states.

Their comments came as Iran hinted that it was ready to resume indirect negotiations with the United States in Vienna, but did not commit to a date. Iran also continued to exceed the limits of its nuclear activities which had been limited by the agreement.

Blinken reiterated that the window for Iran to return to the deal was closing, but again declined to give a date when it would be too late. “Time is running out,” he said. “We are ready to look to other options if Iran does not change course, and these consultations with our allies and partners are part of it.”

“We will examine all options to meet the challenge posed by Iran,” Blinken said. “And we continue to believe that diplomacy is the most effective way to achieve this. But it takes two to engage in diplomacy, and we have not seen Iran’s willingness to do so. do it at this point. “

Lapid was more blunt, again raising Israel’s warnings that he will act, with military force if necessary, to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.

“There are times when nations must use force to protect the world from evil,” he said. “If a terrorist regime wants to acquire a nuclear weapon, we must act. We must make it clear that the civilized world will not allow this. bomb. Israel reserves the right to act at any time and in any way. It is not only our right, it is also our responsibility.

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