Washington prefers a diplomatic path forward with Iran, but everything—including the military option—is on the table, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Sunday.
In an interview with Al Arabiya‘s Nadia Bilbassy at the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Blinken said Iran had turned its back on a diplomatic solution.
“Iran had an opportunity to get back into the JCPOA at the end of this past summer,” Blinken said, according to a State Department readout, using the acronym for the so-called Iran nuclear deal.
“Unfortunately, they rejected what was on the table and had been agreed to by everybody,” the secretary said. “Now our focus is on the many things that have happened since, including the horrific repression of the Iranian people on the streets of Iran, as young people, women in particular, have been standing up for their basic rights, and very important communities across Iranian society are doing the same thing and are being repressed violently by the regime.”
When asked by Bilbassy whether the U.S. would pursue a military option if necessary, Blinken replied, “Everything is on the table.”
Asked whether U.S. military exercises with Israel, and others in the region, are meant to deter Iran, Blinken replied, “All of our military efforts are designed with the idea of deterrence in mind—that is, to try to make sure that a would-be aggressor thinks twice, thinks three times, and then doesn’t do it.”
When deterrence comes up short, it is important to demonstrate that a country can defend itself effectively, the secretary added.
Bilbassy’s final question centered on the secretary’s forthcoming trip to Jerusalem and Ramallah.
“How can you defuse the tension? Do you fear a third intifada? How can you activate a meaningful meaning of the two-state solution?” the reporter asked.
“I think we’ve seen horrific terrorist attacks in the last couple of days that we condemn and deplore,” said Blinken. “We also see civilian loss of life that is very deeply disturbing. And the most important thing in the near term is to try to get some calm,” he added.
“I want the chance to speak to the Israeli government, to the Palestinian Authority leadership, to hear from people as well who are being affected by this in their daily lives,” he said.
Blinken is slated to arrive in Israel on Monday.