Joe Biden’s remarks on the possibility of “other options” against Iran if talks fail constitute an “illegal threat,” and Tehran reserves the right to reciprocate as necessary, Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s powerful Supreme National Security Council, has indicated.
“The first meeting between Bennett and Biden and the emphasis on using ‘other options’ against Iran, while being an illegal threat to another country, establishes the Islamic Republic of Iran’s right to reciprocal response to ‘available options’,” Shamkhani tweeted Saturday morning.
The senior security official did not specify what these “available options” were, but Iran has warned on past occasions that its conventional missile and air defence capabilities serve as a deterrent to any potential aggression against the Middle Eastern nation by foreign powers.
In his remarks Friday, Israel’s Bennett said he was “happy to hear” Biden’s “clear words that Iran will never be able to acquire a nuclear weapon,” and his comments that there were “other options” if the “diplomatic route…doesn’t work out.”
Israel has spent years alleging that Iran is on the brink of reaching nuclear weapons capability, with former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warning the US and the international community for more than a decade that Tehran was either just “weeks” or “months” away from a nuke. The Islamic Republic has repeatedly denied having any intent to pursue nuclear weapons, pointing to the fatwas (religious rulings) issued by the country’s successive supreme leaders prohibiting their development.
Iran, the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France, Germany and the European Union reached a landmark agreement on peaceful nuclear programme in 2015, with Washington committing to scrap tough anti-Iran sanctions in exchange for limits to Iran’s nuclear capabilities.
The Trump administration unilaterally scrapped the nuclear deal in 2018 and reinstated crushing sanctions against Iran. Tehran gave the agreement’s remaining signatories a one year window to find a workaround to the restrictions, and once that deadline passed, began increasing its uranium stockpiling and enrichment activities beyond limits outlined in the agreement.
Joe Biden campaigned on returning the US to the nuclear agreement as soon as possible, and US negotiators spent months engaging their Iranian counterparts in indirect talks in Vienna, Austria this spring and early summer. However, the two countries have so far failed to agree on which side should be the first make concessions, with Iran demanding that the US first lift its illegal sanctions, and the American side claiming its up to Tehran to reduce its nuclear enrichment and stockpiling activities.
Iranian officials have also expressed concerns about reported US efforts to add additional text to the nuclear agreement, including a line say would seek to link a US commitment to lift sanctions to restrictions to Iran’s conventional missile capabilities –which Tehran has repeatedly stressed it would never surrender.
REUTERS / WANA NEWS AGENCY
Earlier this month, US media
that Naftali Bennett and CIA director William Burns sought to hammer out a ‘plan b’ scenario in the event that the Iran nuclear talks fail, with this ‘plan b’ also said to have been discussed with Israel’s “European allies.”
Israel opposed the 2015 Iran-US nuclear deal from the outset and successfully lobbied to get US President Trump to quit the agreement in 2018. Under Biden, Israeli officials have warned that they wouldn’t rule out unilateral military strikes against Iran if Washington returned to the treaty. Iran has slammed Tel Aviv for its interference in the matter and pointed out repeatedly that Israel is the only country in the Middle East with an actual (suspected) nuclear arsenal.