Antony Blinken addresses the media after meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in Jerusalem. AFP
Blinken made the comments shortly before joining his counterparts from Israel and four Arab countries at a special gathering where the Iranian nuclear deal was expected to top the agenda. Israel and many of its neighbors are fiercely opposed to the deal, which they believe with embolden and enrich Iran.
"When it comes to the most important element, we see eye-to-eye,” Blinken told reporters at a news conference with Israel's foreign minister. "We are both committed, both determined that Iran will never acquire a nuclear weapon.”
The Biden administration has been working to renew the 2015 nuclear deal, which placed curbs on Iran's nuclear program in exchange for billions of dollars in sanctions relief. With support from Israel, the Trump administration withdrew from the deal in 2018, causing it to unravel.
Israel’s Defence Minister Benny Gantz (right) meets with Antony Blinken in Jerusalem. AFP
Although Iran has since raced ahead with its nuclear program, Israel and Gulf Arab countries are deeply concerned about restoring the original deal. Israel fears it does not include enough safeguards to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Both Israel and its Gulf allies also believe that relief from economic sanctions will allow Iran to step up its military activities across the region, including support for hostile militant groups.
Blinken said the US believes that restoring the nuclear deal "is the best way to put Iran's program back in the box it was in.” He added: "Our commitment to the core principle of Iran never acquiring a nuclear weapon is unwavering.”
He also vowed to cooperate with Israel to counter Iran's "aggressive behavior” across the region.
It remains unclear if or when the nuclear deal will be renewed, but there are indications it could be soon despite several last-minute snags, one of which involves Iran's demand for the US to lift its designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a "foreign terrorist organisation.”
Israel is deeply opposed to such a step and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett told Blinken that he hoped "the United States will hear the concerned voices from the region — Israel’s and others — on this very important issue.”
“If Iran comes back into strict compliance with its commitments under the JCPOA, the United States will do the same and is prepared to engage in discussions with Iran toward that end,” a joint statement from the four nations said.
Washington has missed multiple opportunities to improve relations or reconcile with Iran since the 1979 Iranian “revolution”that toppled the Shah, a longstanding US ally.
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani gave European powers another two months to save a 2015 nuclear deal on Wednesday, but warned that Tehran was still preparing for further significant breaches of the agreement if diplomatic efforts failed.
The state-owned Tehran Times posted a photograph of Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Bagheri Kani, in a hotel lobby with Iranian Ambassador to Qatar Hamidreza Dehghani.
"Every day, women lead and make vital contributions to diplomatic efforts across the globe," said Lana Nusseibeh, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation for Political Affairs and Permanent Representative of the UAE to the UN.
Rosemary DiCarlo told the UN Security Council that during talks in Cairo from June 12-20 the rivals reached "a broad consensus on most of the contentious articles” in the proposed 2017 constitution, which she called "commendable.”
Two of those killed were on the train and one was in the truck, Missouri State Highway Patrol spokesman Cpl. Justin Dunn said. Officials were still trying to determine the exact number of people aboard. Seven cars derailed, the patrol said.