Biden’s Secretary of State to include Israel and Gulf States in Iran talks

Antony Blinken (Reuters)

Middle East Monitor  /  January 20, 2021

The new US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said yesterday that the Biden administration will look to include Israel and the Gulf States in any future nuclear negotiations with Iran. Tehran refused last month to accept the inclusion of Arab states in any such talks.

“The Biden administration is committed to not having Iran nuclear weapons,” said Blinken. “Iran’s possession of nuclear weapons will make it more dangerous than it is now.”

He added that it is Washington’s belief that Iran is taking many steps to free itself from the restrictions of the 2015 nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). “America has an urgent responsibility to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons,” he insisted.

A return to the JCPOA is apparently among the issues are considered to be a priority for Biden. He has said that the US is willing to re-enter talks on the condition that Iran returns to strict compliance first.

Outgoing US President Donald Trump withdrew from the deal back in 2018 and imposed further sanctions on Iran as a policy of “maximum pressure” on Tehran. The Iranian government has recently vowed to enrich uranium to 20 per cent at its underground Fordow facility.

However, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said earlier this month that Iran is in no hurry to return to negotiations with the US. “Sanctions are a treachery and crime against the Iranian nation and must be lifted,” he said.

Biden is to be inaugurated as the 46th US President today. Trump leaves the White House with his lowest ever job approval rating at 34 per cent, according to a Gallup poll conducted on Monday. He is also the first US President not to have a 50 per cent approval rating at any point during his term in office.