As nuke deal with Iran nears, US SecState Blinken tries to calm nervous allies

Both Israel and its Gulf allies also believe that relief from economic sanctions will allow Iran to step up its military activities across the region, including support for hostile militant groups

Associated PressUpdated: Sunday, March 27, 2022, 03:15 PM IST
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U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israel's Foreign Minister Yair Lapid arrive to attend a news conference, on Sunday, March 27, 2022, at Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem | AP

Jerusalem: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday tried to soothe the fears of Israel and its Gulf Arab allies ahead of the expected renewal of global powers’ international nuclear deal with Iran.

Blinken made the comments shortly before joining his counterparts from Israel and four Arab countries at a special gathering where the Iranian nuclear deal was expected to top the agenda.

“When it comes to the most important element, we see eye to eye,” Blinken told a news conference with Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid. “We are both committed, both determined that Iran will never acquire a nuclear weapon.”

The Biden administration has been working to renew the 2015 nuclear deal, which placed curbs on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. With support from Israel, the Trump administration withdrew from the deal in 2018, causing it to unravel.

Although Iran has since raced ahead with its nuclear program, Israel and Gulf Arab countries are deeply concerned about restoring the original deal. Israel fears it does not include enough safeguards to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

Both Israel and its Gulf allies also believe that relief from economic sanctions will allow Iran to step up its military activities across the region, including support for hostile militant groups.

Blinken said the U.S. believes that restoring the nuclear deal “is the best way to put Iran’s program back in the box it was in.” He added: “Our commitment to the core principle of Iran never acquiring a nuclear weapon is unwavering.”

He also vowed to cooperate with Israel to counter Iran’s “aggressive behavior” across the region.

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