US prepares ‘other options’ against Iran’s nuclear program
US President Joe Biden is preparing “other options” should negotiations with Iran collapse, the White House said, offering what appeared to be a veiled threat soon after talks resumed to revive the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki issued the warning during a Thursday press conference, telling reporters that while the president “believes in diplomacy,” he is also “committed to ensuring Iran never acquires a nuclear weapon” and would pursue whatever actions necessary to stop that from happening.
“Given the ongoing advances in Iran's nuclear program, the president has asked his team to be prepared in the event that diplomacy fails, and we must turn to other options, and that requires preparations,” Psaki added, saying those might take shape as “additional measures to further restrict Iran's revenue-producing sectors,” though she did not elaborate.
The comments came just hours after a meeting between US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and his Israeli counterpart, Benny Gantz, during which the Israeli official voiced hopes to “deepen our dialogue and cooperation” when it comes to Iran, namely “joint military readiness to face Iran and to stop its regional aggression and nuclear aspirations.”
Gantz was also reportedly set to discuss possible bilateral military drills between the two countries to prepare for a possible strike on the Islamic Republic, but it’s unclear whether the issue came up.
Following a lengthy hiatus, talks to breathe new life into the nuclear pact struck between Iran and world powers in 2015 resumed last week. Tehran returned to the negotiating table with demands that Washington lift its “oppressive sanctions” in exchange for strict controls on its civilian nuclear program, its long-held stance. Former US President Donald Trump unilaterally abrogated the deal and reimposed all American sanctions in a “maximum pressure campaign” in 2018, a policy Biden has largely followed, despite agreeing to talks. In response, Iran has gradually scaled back its own commitments to the deal, including by boosting its enrichment of uranium.
Though Washington has repeatedly accused Tehran of seeking nuclear weapons, Iranian officials insist the country’s atomic energy program has no military dimension, some even citing previous religious decrees by Iran’s Ayatollahs forbidding the use of weapons of mass destruction altogether.