TEHRAN – The alternative to diplomacy with Iran is likely to involve military action, U.S. State Department spokesperson Marie Harf said in a press briefing on Friday.
“I think we’ve been very clear that the alternative to diplomacy – because the president has said he’s committed to preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon – is doing that in another manner which could, of course, involve military action,” Harf said.
“So we have said this is the best chance we have probably ever had to resolve this diplomatically and we don’t know when we’ll get it again, so no one – including Congress – should do anything to possibly derail that when we’ve also said in six months, if this doesn’t work, if we can’t get this done, we will be the first ones back up on the Hill asking for more sanctions,” she said, referring to the six-month interim nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers, which came into effect on January 20.
Harf added, “I’m not saying in six months we’re going to go to war if we don’t get a deal done. Broadly speaking, the alternative to resolving this diplomatically is resolving it through other means. What those other means are is pretty clear, right? There’s only a few scenarios that come out of this: either we resolve it diplomatically or we resolve it a different way.
“And it’s just common sense that that different way could involve – is likely to involve military action. The president’s been clear that’s on the table. But when you’re talking about a more immediate – if in six months this doesn’t work, yes, we will ask for more sanctions, I’m not predicting that we would take military action right away. It’s more of a broad statement that, look, if we can’t get this done diplomatically in six months or a year or at any time, we will – we are committed to resolving it. And that involves less durable and, quite frankly, riskier actions.”
Asked if the U.S. is concerned about the fact that EU member states are sending or preparing to send extensive government and trade delegations to Iran, Harf said, “We’ve been very clear that Iran is not open for business. We’ve had Under Secretary of Treasury David Cohen traveling around to different countries, talking to them about what exactly is in the Joint Plan of Action and what isn’t – we’ve had State Department folks involved in that as well – because we’ve been very clear that as the Joint Plan of Action is implemented, we need to keep communicating with our partners around the world who helped us put in place the sanctions architecture, what exactly it does and what it doesn’t do. We’ll continue those conversations and, of course, appreciate members of Congress being involved in the discussion as well.”
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