President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, pledged to consult with Israel, Gulf allies and Congress when seeking “a longer and stronger” agreement to rein in Iran’s nuclear ambitions. During his Senate confirmation hearing Tuesday, Blinken said the incoming administration would “engage on the takeoff, not just the landing” with allies and partners before taking steps to rejoin the landmark nuclear agreement.
“President-elect Biden is committed to the proposition that Iran will not acquire a nuclear weapon,” Blinken told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “Iran with a nuclear weapon or the threshold capacity to build one is an Iran that would act with potentially greater impunity than it already is.”
If Iran returns to strict compliance under the nuclear pact, Biden has said he will reenter the multilateral pact as a starting point for follow-on negotiations to “tighten and lengthen Iran’s nuclear constraints” and address Iran’s missile program. Blinken said Tuesday that “we are a long way from there,” adding that the administration would need to first ensure Iran is making good on its obligations.
Since President Donald Trump exited the pact in 2018 and reimposed harsh economic sanctions, Tehran has gradually increased its stockpile of low-enriched uranium. In a major breach of the deal, Iran announced earlier this month that its scientists are producing uranium metal, a fuel used in nuclear reactors.
Blinken, who was closely involved in the crafting of the original 2015 deal, also promised the committee that the Biden administration would engage in “genuine consultations, not notifications” with Congress when it comes to its dealings with Tehran.