The US “Time” magazine quoted the commander of the US Central Command, Kenneth McKenzie, on Wednesday, that his forces are ready for a “potential military option” in the event of the failure of nuclear talks with Iran.
“Diplomats are taking the lead on this, but Central Command always has a variety of plans that we can implement if directed to do so,” McKenzie told the magazine.
He added that Tehran had not made a decision to go ahead with a real warhead, but he shared US allies in the Middle East’s concerns about Iran’s progress.
McKenzie noted that Iran has yet to come up with a warhead design small enough to be mounted on top of any of its 3,000 ballistic missiles.
He also said that Iran has shown that its missiles have a proven ability to strike targets with precision, adding that the only thing the Iranians have done in the past three to five years is to build a highly capable ballistic missile platform.
Robert Malley (archive)
Mali: Washington will not stand idly by if Iran gets close to the “bomb”
The US envoy in charge of the Iranian file, Robert Malley, stressed that Washington would not stand “idly” if Iran did not work quickly to return to the nuclear agreement during the talks that resume next week in Vienna.
In an interview he gave on Tuesday with “National Public Radio”, excerpts of which were broadcast today, Wednesday, Mali said: “If the Iranians decide not to return to the agreement, we will have to look at other means, including diplomacy” to counter Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.
He also asserted that the United States “would not be willing to stand idly by” if Iran exhausted the talks in Vienna and began getting close to building a nuclear bomb.
Iranian nuclear facility (archive)
He did not explain what “they came very close” to acquiring the bomb, nor did he provide details of the US options in this case.
Mali continued: “Let’s see what Tehran will say in the nuclear talks…but the signals emanating from it are not very encouraging.”
Mali’s comments come ahead of the resumption of talks in Vienna next week aimed at reviving the 2015 nuclear deal.
Mali said, “We are ready to return to compliance with the terms of the agreement and to lift all sanctions that contradict it. If Iran wants to return to the agreement, it has the space to do so.”
He continued, “If Iran does not want to return to the agreement, and if it continues what it appears to be doing now, which is to drain diplomatic talks on nuclear and accelerate its nuclear program, if it chooses this path, we will have to respond accordingly.”
From the previous round of the Vienna talks held last June
The talks in Vienna are taking place indirectly, as the European Union delegate is communicating with both Mali and the Iranian delegation, which refuses to meet the representative of the United States face to face. Iran demands the lifting of all sanctions imposed on it, but the Joe Biden administration insists that it is looking exclusively at lifting the measures imposed by Donald Trump in the framework of the United States’ withdrawal from the agreement in 2018, including a comprehensive US ban on the sale of Iranian oil exports.
And US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken previously mentioned “alternative options to confront Iran’s intransigence,” but Mali stressed in the interview on Tuesday that the options on the table in the first place are economic pressures.