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US Warns Iran if Vienna Talks Fails

US Warns Iran if Vienna Talks Fails

Sunday, 21 November, 2021 - 08:15
Austin speaks at the Manama forum on Saturday. (AFP)

The US can deploy overwhelming force at the time and place of its choosing, warned Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

Austin sought on Saturday to reassure allies in the Middle East that President Joe Biden's administration was committed to the region despite Washington increasingly turning its attention towards countering China.

Speaking at the IISS Manama Dialogue, he asserted that Washington is ready to resort to a military option in the region if necessary.

He acknowledged the concerns in the region and the world, noting that Washington's "commitment to security in the Middle East is strong and sure."

Austin also warned that talks with Iran on compliance with the obligations agreed upon under the 2015 nuclear deal might not lead to a positive solution.

"Our mission is to support diplomacy, and to deter conflict, and to defend the United States and our vital interests. And if we're forced to turn back aggression, we will win—and we will win decisively."

Austin denied reports that the US is reluctant to use force, asserting: "My department has made it a priority to address the drone threat."

He stressed that integrated deterrence in the Middle East and North Africa means synchronizing "our actions and capabilities with those of our partners and allies."

He indicated that Washington remains committed to preventing Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon and remains committed to a diplomatic outcome of the nuclear issue.

He addressed the nuclear negotiations between Iran and the major powers scheduled to resume on November 29 to restart talks on a joint return to compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

"We and our partners will return to those talks in good faith," noted Austin, adding that "Iran's actions in recent months have not been encouraging - especially because of the expansion of their nuclear program."

Austin spoke at a "The United States Defense Policies in the Middle East" discussion at the Manama Dialogue, reiterating his country's commitment to strengthening the region's security.

He said Washington continues to strengthen security in the region and support its interests and the interests of regional countries against any potential threat.

"We face a range of common challenges - including lingering conflicts and 21st-century threats that can cross borders with the ease and fury of a storm."

Austin stressed that Iran and its proxies pose widespread threats, and countries "must work together to share information, and to support regional air defenses, and to join in mutual defense."

"If Iran truly wants to rejoin the international community, it must return to international norms."

Meanwhile, former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal, attending the Manama security forum, welcomed verbal assurances but said "demonstrative actions are equally important."

He urged the need to prevent the Iran-backed Houthi militias from obtaining arms.

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