United States “Committed to Preventing Iran From Acquiring Nuclear Weapons”> US Department of Defense> Department of Defense News

U.S. allies and partners in the Middle East and elsewhere share deep concerns about the Iranian government’s destabilizing actions, including its support for terrorism, its dangerous proxies and its nuclear program, Defense Secretary Lloyd J said Austin III.

The secretary gave a major political speech on the Middle East and North Africa today at the Manama Dialogue 2021 International Institute for Strategic Studies in Manama, Bahrain.

“The United States remains committed to preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. And we remain committed to securing a diplomatic outcome to the nuclear issue. But if Iran is unwilling to seriously engage , we will look at all the options necessary to keep the United States safe, ”Austin said.

Next week, the Iranian negotiating team is due to return to Vienna, Austria, to resume talks on a mutual return to compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, he said.

“We and our partners will return to these talks in good faith. But Iran’s actions in recent months have not been encouraging, especially given the expansion of their nuclear program,” he said.

“If Iran returns with constructive positions, we still believe that we can quickly resolve our lingering differences to make possible a mutual return to the JCPOA,” he added.

Iran’s neighbors have tried to discuss and improve their relations, Austin said. The United States fully supports these efforts.

“We urge Iran to do its part and take action to reduce violence and conflict. But regardless of Iran’s decision, we will continue to work closely with our partners. Iran should have no illusions that it can undermine our strong relations in this region. And we will defend ourselves, and we will defend our friends and we will defend our interests, “said the secretary.

Austin said the Defense Department was working with partners in the region to deal with threats from Iran, its proxies and terrorist organizations. These threats include unmanned aerial vehicles, boats loaded with explosives and ballistic missiles.

Working with partners to counter these and other threats includes joint exercises and training at places such as the United Arab Emirates Air Warfare Center, he said.

“Thanks to our joint investments, our partners here have their own formidable capabilities to deal with the dangers of drones,” he said.

For example, Saudi Arabia’s ground and air forces can now eliminate 90% of drones or missiles fired from Yemen and he said the department is working with the kingdom to bring that figure to 100%.

In addition, across the Middle East, the department is supporting efforts to better integrate air and missile defenses, strengthen regional security cooperation, and ban hazardous materials at sea.

“We will build on our long-standing investments in this crucial region – in security cooperation and training, and professional military education, capacity building and intelligence sharing and joint exercises,” he said. Austin said, adding that diplomacy is above all the tool of choice.

“America’s commitment to help our friends defend their sovereign space is unwavering,” he said.

Austin also touched on a number of other topics.

Regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, he said the United States had donated more than 8.2 million doses of vaccines in this region, including donations to Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Morocco, the Palestinian territories, Tunisia and Yemen. “We will continue to drive hard with our partners to end this pandemic. “

On climate change, Austin said America is intensely focused on it and it is an existential threat to everyone.

“All countries will be much less secure in a warming, stressed, volatile and chaotic world. And it’s easy to see the risk of new conflicts in the Middle East jostling over resources that cross borders,” he said. -he declares.

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