On Sunday, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken acknowledged that the despotic Iranian regime has indeed supported terrorism and funded “extremist groups” but still kept to the Biden administration’s game plan of possibly reducing the sanctions that the Trump administration had implemented — all so the U.S. could support the much-criticized Iran nuclear deal.
ABC’s “This Week” host George Stephanopoulos asked Blinken about the Biden administration’s negotiations with Iran, the world’s largest state supporter of terrorism.
“Your administration is continuing to pursue nuclear negotiations with Iran, but 42 Republican senators have called on the president to end the negotiations, make it clear that sanctions will remain in place because of Iranian funding of Hamas. Do you believe that Iran is funding Hamas? And if they are, should the sanctions stay in place?” asked the host.
Blinken would not directly answer the question of whether Iran funds the terrorist group Hamas in the Gaza Strip, despite widespread evidence of that assertion, instead sidestepping to segue to the nuclear deal.
“You know, George, Iran is engaged in a number of activities, including funding extremist groups, supporting terrorism more broadly, supporting very dangerous proxies that are taking destabilizing actions throughout the Middle East, proliferating weapons, and two things on that. One, an Iran with a nuclear weapon or with the capability to build one in very short order is going to act with even greater impunity in those areas, which just adds to the urgency of trying to put the nuclear problem back in the box that the nuclear agreement put it in,” said Blinken.
“And, of course, many of these actions are going forward now while the — you know, and have gone forward over the last few years under the so-called maximum pressure being exerted by the — by the previous administration and clearly did not get the result that we all seek, which is to curb all of these activities,” Blinken continued. “But the first thing that we need to do is put the nuclear problem back in the box. That’s why we’re committed to trying to see if Iran will come back into compliance with the nuclear agreement, the so-called JCPOA. That’s what we’re engaged in now. And then use that as a platform to build on and to try to deal with these other issues.”
“The Iranians say the decision to raise — to lift some of the sanctions has already been made. Is that true?” Stephanopoulos pressed.
“We have been now over — we’re about to have our, I think, fifth round of discussions in Vienna with the Iranians,” Blinken replied. “And what these discussions and talks, indirect, as you know, have done is they’ve clarified what each sides needs to do in order to come back into compliance. So we know what sanctions would need to be lifted if they’re inconsistent with the nuclear agreement, but as important and indeed more important, Iran, I think, knows what it needs to do to come back into compliance on the nuclear side. And what we haven’t seen is whether Iran is ready and willing to make a decision to do what it has to do. That’s the test and we don’t yet have an answer.”
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