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


© Reuters. FILEPHOTO: Iranian flag waved at the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA), headquarters in Vienna, Austria on May 23, 2021. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/File Photo

By Matt Spetalnick and Steve Holland

WASHINGTON, (Reuters) – Top U.S. officials are expected to tell Israeli counterparts Tuesday that while the Biden administration is committed to diplomatic relations with Iran, it would also be open to exploring “other avenues” in order to prevent Tehran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

Eyal Hula, Israel’s national security advisor, is expected to visit Washington to exchange intelligence with the other allies and to develop a baseline assessment of the progress made by Tehran’s nuclear program, according to the official.

In exchange for economic sanctions being lifted, Iran agreed to curtail its uranium enrichment programs, which could lead to nuclear weapons. Trump, then the US president, renounced the 2015 deal and Israel opposes any U.S. attempts to revive it.

In broad terms, U.S. experts believe the time it would take Iran to achieve nuclear “breakout” – enough enriched uranium to build a nuclear bomb – has “gone from about 12 months down to a period of about a few months” since Trump pulled out of the pact, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The official stated that Hulata was “absolutely alarming” ahead of Hulata’s meeting with Jake Sullivan, the U.S. national safety adviser.

Iran repeatedly denied that it was developing nuclear weapons.

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

But if this doesn’t work, there are still other options. We are committed to making sure Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon.

When asked what options were being considered and whether they included military options, the official replied that “we’ll take all necessary measures” without going into detail.

According to the official, Iran had “send indications to several parties that they are planning to return to Vienna.” This was after indirect talks between Iran and the United States that were unable to proceed.

But signaling that obstacles remain, Iran’s foreign minister said on Saturday that the United States must first release $10 billion of Tehran’s frozen funds as a sign of good will, something the Biden administration has shown no willingness to do.

Bennett is a far-right politician, who in June ended Benjamin Netanyahu’s 12-year tenure as Prime Minister. He has stated that he would like Biden to take a more aggressive stance towards Iran, Israel’s arch-foe.

The opposition of Biden to the expansion of Jewish settlements in occupied Palestinian land is also disputed.

When asked if the topic would make it into Tuesday’s negotiations, the U.S. official replied that Israel knew of the Administration’s views on the necessity to abstain from any actions that might be seen as provocative and undercut efforts to reach a two-state settlement between Israel and Palestine.

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