Iran could be a “matter of weeks” away from having enough material for producing a nuclear weapon if it continues to violate the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal, said Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Blinken told NBC News that the United States would be again willing to comply with the 2015 deal, which President Donald Trump pulled the United States from in 2018, calling it “a horrible one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made.”
When asked about whether detained Americans could be released under a new deal, Blinken demurred.
“Irrespective of … any deal, those Americans need to be released. Period,” he said in the interview, adding, “We’re going to focus on making sure that they come home one way or another.”
Blinken said the United States and its allies would likely need a “longer and stronger” deal if Iran continues to lift its restraints on the nuclear deal.
Trump has said that the Iran nuclear deal, which was negotiated under President Barack Obama, emboldens a regime that is “the leading state sponsor of terror” and “exports dangerous missiles, fuels conflicts across the Middle East, and supports terrorist proxies and militias such as Hezbollah, Hamas, the Taliban, and Al-Qaeda.”
“Over the years, Iran and its proxies have bombed American Embassies and military installations, murdered hundreds of American service members, and kidnapped, imprisoned, and tortured American citizens,” he said at the time, adding that Iran didn’t actually adhere to key requirements laid out in the deal.
Despite Blinken’s statement, Iran recently criticized the United States and said it will not renegotiate the deal.
“The nuclear accord is a multilateral international agreement ratified by UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which is non-negotiable and parties to it are clear and unchangeable,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told state-run media on Saturday.
But days before that, on Jan. 20, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani called on President Joe Biden to return back to the 2015 accord and lift sanctions on Iran that were placed during Trump’s time in office.
“If Washington returns to Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal, we will also fully respect our commitments under the pact,” he said.
Earlier this month, Blinken was confirmed in a 78-22 vote in the Senate. In the hearing, he said Biden’s administration would also end U.S. military support for the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen against the Iran-aligned Houthi militia group.
Blinken is a former White House national security aide and former chief of staff to Biden. He was also the deputy secretary of state between 2015 and 2017. After that, he co-founded WestExec Advisors in 2017 along with several other former Obama administration officials, including Michele Flournoy, Sergio Aguirre, and Nitin Chadda.