A senior US official said Wednesday that Tehran would never get a nuclear weapon regardless of the outcome of talks on the Iran nuclear deal.
The warning came shortly after the top US diplomat, Antony Blinken, said the time for reaching a deal on the now-defunct Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was closing.
And President Joe Biden has said that the US prefers diplomacy with Iran. Asked what the options were if diplomacy failed, a senior State Department official refused to speculate.
“But I will just reiterate … that the Biden administration and the president himself [have been] very, very, very clear that we are not going to let Iran obtain a nuclear weapon. And I think all of our partners in the region agree with that point,” said Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Joey Hood.
Nevertheless, the US diplomat said Washington would continue to try to use diplomacy as a tool of first resort.
“But the secretary [Blinken] pointed out that that window is not open forever. We need to get back to negotiations; we need to get back to the JCPOA,” Hood told Al Arabiya.
“The more that the Iranians make progress on their nuclear program, the less benefit there is to going back to the JCPOA. So, both sides need to act now. And we’re ready,” he added.
The UN atomic watchdog criticized Iran on Tuesday for its lack of cooperation.
Hood also hit out at Iranian officials for what’s been seen by some officials as brinksmanship. Iran has said it would not move forward with the indirect talks being held in Vienna until the US lifted all economic sanctions.
Asked if this meant there would not be a seventh round of talks in Vienna, Hood said: “I think [it’s] a waste of time to sit and talk about it in the media. They [Iran] need to get back to Vienna, get back to the negotiating table, and talk about both sides reentering the JCPOA and keeping up our commitments.”