US, Israel say they are exploring a ‘Plan B’ for Iran

Oct 13, 2021, 11:01 AM | Updated: Oct 14, 2021, 2:07 pm

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States and Israel said Wednesday they are exploring a “Plan B” for dealing with Iran if the Islamic Republic does not return in good faith to negotiations to salvage the languishing landmark 2015 nuclear deal.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said discussions between their two countries have begun on “other options” should Iran reject an offer to come back into compliance with the agreement if the U.S. rejoins it.

They did not elaborate on what those options might be, but there are a wide range of non-diplomatic options that could be considered, ranging from stepped up sanctions to covert or military actions. A Biden administration priority has been to revive the deal and abandoning that goal would be a blow to its foreign policy objectives.

The remarks were a rare acknowledgment by the U.S. that it is looking at what to do in the event diplomacy with Iran fails. Israel has never been a party to the nuclear deal, which former President Donald Trump withdrew from in 2018, and its former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was a vocal opponent of the agreement negotiated by the Obama administration.

Blinken and Lapid made the remarks at a joint news conference at the State Department with the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates at which all three agreed to try to expand on the so-called “Abraham Accords,” the Trump-era agreements that normalized relations between Israel and the UAE and other Arab states.

Their comments came as Iran has hinted it’s ready to return to indirect negotiations with the U.S. in Vienna but has not committed to a date. Iran has also continued to blow through limits on it nuclear activities that had been constrained by the deal.

Blinken reiterated that the window for Iran to return to the agreement is closing but again declined to give a date at which it would be too late. “Time is running short,” he said. “We are prepared to turn to other options if Iran doesn’t change course, and these consultations with our allies and partners are part of it.”

“We will look at every option to to deal with the challenge posed by Iran,” Blinken said. “And we continue to believe that diplomacy is the most effective way to do that. But, it takes two to engage in diplomacy, and we have not seen from Iran a willingness to do that at this point.”

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

“There are moments when nations must use force to protect the world from evil,” he said. “If a terror regime is going to acquire a nuclear weapon we must act. We must make clear that the civilized world won’t allow it. If the Iranians don’t believe the world is serious about stopping them, they will race to the bomb.”

Lapid met on Tuesday in Washington with Vice President Kamala Harris as well as Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan to convey Israel’s concerns about the U.S. rejoining the nuclear deal and restoring sanctions relief.

Those concerns appear to have struck a chord within the administration, which is loathe to appear less than supportive of Israel. Before Blinken and Lapid spoke, the administration’s special envoy for Iran negotiations, Robert Malley, made similar comments about exploring paths beyond diplomacy with Iran.

“We have to prepare for a world where Iran doesn’t have constraints on its nuclear program and we have to consider options for dealing with that,” Malley said at a virtual event hosted by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on Wednesday.

“We will be prepared to adjust to a different reality in which we have to deal with all options to address Iran’s nuclear program if it’s not prepared to come back,” he said. “There is every possibility that Iran will choose a different path, and we need to coordinate with Israel and other partners in the region.”

Malley said he would be traveling soon to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar to discuss those options.

In addition to Iran, Blinken, Lapid and Emirati Foreign Minister Abdullah Bin Zayed also discussed the way ahead in Israeli-Arab relations after the sealing of the Abraham Accords just over a year ago. Bin Zayed said he would soon be visiting Israel, reciprocating a visit Lapid made to Abu Dhabi in June.

“I look forward to seeing you in Israel soon,” he said to Lapid. Lapid responded: “In Israel, the door is open to you. My wife is looking forward to having you over for dinner.”

All three ministers expressed a desire to expand the Abraham Accords and announced the creation of two new working groups: one that will look at religious co-existence and another that will focus on water and energy.

Bin Zayad also said he hoped that broader Arab-Israeli rapprochement could energize long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.

Blinken reaffirmed the Biden administration’s commitment to a two-state solution being the best way to ensure the long-term survival of Israel as a democratic and Jewish nation as well as meeting Palestinian aspirations to have a country of their own.

But he demurred when asked for a timetable on the administration’s stated intention of re-opening the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem. Israel is opposed to the re-opening of the consulate, arguing that Jerusalem is its capital, as recognized by the U.S., and that its permission is required to open any diplomatic mission there.

The consulate had long been the conduit for U.S. relations with the Palestinians until Trump closed it and merged its functions with the American Embassy, which he had moved to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv after breaking with long-standing U.S. policy and recognizing the holy city as Israel’s capital.

Blinken said only that “we’ll be moving forward with the process of opening a consulate as part of a deepening of those ties with the Palestinians.” But, he did not specifically mention that the consulate would be in Jerusalem.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - A Bed Bath & Beyond sign is shown in Mountain View, Calif., May 9, 2012. Shares in Bed Bath ...
Associated Press

Bed Bath & Beyond tumbles after influential investor exits

NEW YORK (AP) — The newest meme stock on Wall Street, Bed Bath & Beyond, is tumbling even further in after-hours trading Thursday after a high-profile activist investor confirmed that’s he’s bailed out of the stock. Ryan Cohen, the co-founder of Chewy who helped ignite a couple of meme stocks to jaw-dropping heights, confirmed in […]
15 hours ago
The Trump Organization's former Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg leaves from court, Thursd...
Associated Press

What’s next for Trump Organization after Weisselberg plea?

NEW YORK (AP) — The numbers guy did the math: Allen Weisselberg — a longtime loyal lieutenant to Donald Trump — could have gotten years in prison if he went to trial and failed to beat tax evasion allegations. But if he agreed to testify in an upcoming trial of the former president’s company, he […]
15 hours ago
FILE - This June 23, 2011, file booking photo provided by the U.S. Marshals Service shows James "Wh...
Associated Press

Justice Dept.: 3 men charged in Whitey Bulger’s killing

BOSTON (AP) — Three men, including a Mafia hitman, have been charged in the killing of notorious Boston crime boss James “Whitey” Bulger in a West Virginia prison, the Justice Department said Thursday. The charges against Fotios “Freddy” Geas, Paul J. DeCologero and Sean McKinnon come nearly four years after Bulger’s killing, which raised questions […]
15 hours ago
FILE - Opera tenor Placido Domingo attends an awards ceremony in the Royal Theatre in Madrid, Spain...
Associated Press

Placido Domingo’s name comes up in Argentina sex sect probe

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Opera star Placido Domingo’s name has appeared in an investigation of a sect-like organization in Argentina that also had U.S. offices and whose leaders have been charged with crimes, including sexual exploitation. Domingo, the Spanish opera singer who has faced accusations of sexual harassment from numerous women over the past […]
15 hours ago
Associated Press

Kansas City police: Toddler dies with drugs in system

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City woman has been charged after her 2-year-old son was found dead in a home strewn with apparent drugs and drug paraphernalia, prosecutors announced Thursday. Michaela Chism, 36, was charged with two felony counts of endangering the welfare of a child, who police found dead on Wednesday, the […]
15 hours ago
In this photo provided by Ken Mauldin, Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers load a roughly 400-poun...
Associated Press

Colorado homeowner emptied pistol to kill bear that broke in

DENVER (AP) — Ken Mauldin was jolted awake last weekend with his wife screaming incessantly in their split level home in Colorado’s mountain town of Steamboat Springs where their three children were sleeping one floor below. Then she yelled: “There’s a bear in the house!” Kelly Mauldin had just been awakened by the couple’s barking […]
15 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Most plumbing problems can be fixed with regular maintenance

Instead of waiting for a problem to happen, experts suggest getting a head start on your plumbing maintenance.
...
CANVAS ANNUITY

Best retirement savings rates hit 4.30%

Maximize your retirement savings with guaranteed fixed rates up to 4.30%. Did you know there is a financial product that can give you great interest rates as you build your retirement savings and provide you with a paycheck for life once you retire? It might sound too good to be true but it is not; this product is called an annuity.
US, Israel say they are exploring a ‘Plan B’ for Iran