Blinken seeks to reassure allies on Iran

STORY: "We are both committed, both determined that Iran will never acquire a nuclear weapon."

On a visit to Israel ahead of a major Mideast summit, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken sought to reassure Israeli and Arab partners that Washington would continue to oppose Iranian efforts to obtain atomic weapons.

Israel is hosting the two-day summit, which will include foreign ministers from the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Morocco.

All three nations recently normalized ties with Israel as part of the Abraham Accords launched by the Trump administration.

But President Joe Biden and Blinken are now negotiating with Iran and other world powers to reactivate the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action - or JCPOA - a deal that lifted sanctions on Tehran in exchange for limits on Iran's nuclear program.

Trump pulled out of the agreement, and Iran subsequently began enriching and stockpiling uranium in excess of the JCPOA limits.

"The United States believes that a return to full implementation of the joint comprehensive plan of action is the best way to put Iran's nuclear program back in the box that it was in, but has escaped from since the United States withdrew from that agreement. But whether there is a JCPOA or not, our commitment to the core principle of Iran never acquiring a nuclear weapon is unwavering and one way or another we will continue to coordinate closely with our Israeli partners on the way forward."

Negotiators in Vienna have said for weeks that they are close to a deal, but it remains elusive.

"It's imminent, but it depends on the political will of the United States. It was the United States which withdrew from the deal.”

At the public Doha Forum in Qatar, Iranian diplomat Kamal Kharrazi blamed Washington for the delay.

But U.S. envoy Robert Malley suggested significant hurdles remained.

“We’re pretty close to a deal, but we’ve been pretty close now for some time, and I think that tells you all you need to know about the difficulty of the issues that remain.”