U.S. Defense Secretary Lowers Expectations Ahead of Iran Talks
(Bloomberg) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin cautioned that talks with Iran about complying with obligations agreed to under a 2015 deal to limit its nuclear program may not lead to a positive solution.
“We will return to those talks in good faith, but Iran’s recent actions are not encouraging, especially because of the expansion of their nuclear program,” Austin said in Bahrain Saturday.
Negotiating teams return to Vienna later this month to discuss lifting U.S. sanctions on Iran in exchange for a cap on its atomic program. Iran has dramatically increased its stockpile of highly-enriched nuclear fuel while continuing to stonewall international monitors, according to the latest International Atomic Energy Agency report circulated among officials.
“We remain committed to a diplomatic outcome of the nuclear issue,” Austin said. “But if Iran isn’t willing to engage seriously, then we will look at all the options necessary to keep the U.S. secure.”
Austin also sought to reassure allies in the Middle East about the U.S.’s commitment to security in the region, amid rising tensions with China and a strained relationship between President Joe Biden and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
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