US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reaffirmed on Tuesday that Washington still believes that reviving the nuclear deal with Tehran remains as “the best way to address the nuclear challenge posed by Iran.”
He stressed the US ability to curb Iran’s other malign activities.
Speaking to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Blinken vowed to hold an open Iran hearing before Memorial Day, which falls at the end of May.
The Secretary also claimed that Iran’s nuclear breakout time went from a year “to a matter of weeks” due to the US withdrawal from the deal. “Iran is acting with more destabilizing effect throughout the region,” he said.
Blinken reiterated previous comments that the Biden administration inherited a “very challenging situation,” adding that they were “ramped up” by Iranian escalations.
“We continue to believe that getting back into compliance with the agreement would be the best way to address the nuclear challenge posed by Iran and to make sure that an Iran that is already acting with incredible aggression doesn't have a nuclear weapon,” Blinken told the Committee.
Turning to the increasing Iranian attacks on US forces in the region, Blinken spoke of two points.
The first point is that these activities would be much worse if Tehran obtained a nuclear weapon.
The second point is that the nuclear agreement with Iran will not affect the US ability and determination to pursue it with respect to hostilities and in coordination with allies.
Blinken stressed that the goal of the United States is that Iran does not obtain a nuclear weapon.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) asked Blinken if it was true that the US conditions to remove the Revolutionary Guards from its terrorism list in exchange for Tehran giving up its revenge for the death of its Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani.
Blinken did not answer the question directly and instead recognized that there is an ongoing threat against US officials both present and past.
“Is it true the State Department is spending roughly $2 million a month to protect those affected?” Cruz asked, referring to an Associated Press report that revealed the State Department is paying that amount towards security for former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and a former top aide.
“We are making — we will — we are making sure, and we will make sure for as long as it takes that we’re protecting our people, past and former if they’re, if they’re under threat,” Blinken responded.