Secretary Antony J. Blinken and Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias at a Joint Press Availability

February 21, 2023

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear


Antony J. Blinken

Author's Title: 

Secretary of State

MR PATEL: Final question. John Hudson of The Washington Post.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. Mr. Foreign Minister, thank you so much for hosting us in your beautiful and sunny capital.


Mr. Secretary, U.S. Ambassador Nides said Israel can and should do whatever it needs to deal with Iran’s nuclear program and, quote, “We’ve got their back,” statements that appeared to many as giving Israel a public green light to attack Iran. Is this now U.S. policy? And given the likelihood that open hostilities with Iran would drag in the United States, can Washington afford to back another conflict in a separate theater?


SECRETARY BLINKEN: John, the second part of your question first with regard to notifying Russia of the President’s travels. Yes, we did in order, of course, to deconflict and to avoid any potential for accidents or danger. Beyond that I can’t comment.

With regard to Ambassador Nides, I haven’t seen the full comments that my friend Tom made. I’m sure they were notable, as they usually are. From what I’ve heard, because I just got a brief description before, he reiterated what we have consistently said. We’re committed to Israel’s security. We are committed together to the proposition that Iran never acquire a nuclear weapon. That’s not exactly news. The President’s been very clear that every option is on the table to do that. And we’re also working to deepen our cooperation and coordination with Israel, as well as with other countries to deal with the multiplicity of challenges that Iran poses, including advances in its nuclear program.

At the same time, we’ve also been clear that the Iran nuclear deal, the so-called JCPOA, is not now on the table. We spent many months to seeing if we could revive it and return to mutual compliance.  There was a proposal put forward by the European Union some months ago that was endorsed by everyone – China, Russia, as well as the United States – and Iran would not go forward with that.

In the meantime, of course, we’ve seen the provision by Iran of drones to Russia to enable its aggression in Ukraine. We’ve seen the renewed repression throughout the streets of Iran against its own citizens simply for trying to speak their minds. And we see Iran also engaging, for example, in plots to assassinate those who oppose the regime in third countries, including in the United States.

We continue to believe that, with regard to the nuclear program, the most effective, sustainable way to deal with the challenges it poses is through diplomacy. But in the – in this moment, those efforts are on the back burner because Iran is simply not engaged in a meaningful way. But the door is always open to diplomacy going forward, but a lot depends on what Iran says and does, and whether or not it engages.

QUESTION: Does Israel have a green light to attack Iran?

SECRETARY BLINKEN: Countries will make sovereign decisions for their own security.  And of course, that’s no different when it comes to Israel or any country.  We can’t make those decisions for them.

MR PATEL: Thank you, everyone. Thank you.