UPDATED 3:02 PM PT – Sunday, October 31, 2021
Secretary of State Antony Blinken gives insight into the department’s efforts in getting Americans out of Afghanistan, as well as current talks regarding the Iran nuclear deal.
Blinken has continued to defend the Biden administration’s efforts to evacuate Americans and allies out of Afghanistan. During a series of interviews on Sunday, Blinken claimed about 340 Americans have been evacuated from Afghanistan since Aug. 31.
This comes as the Biden administration has come under immense scrutiny over the botched withdrawal and has been pressed to do more to help those in danger in the Taliban-ruled country. Blinken stressed his department has ramped up efforts to coordinate better evacuations as more stranded allies have expressed interest in leaving.
“We’re at this 24/7. We have teams of several hundred people in the State Department, and also other parts of our government working on this every single day,” the secretary of state said.
Blinken also assessed the department is constantly working with thousands of Afghan allies who qualify for Special Immigrant Visas.
Additionally, he touched on nuclear negotiations, saying the U.S. is “absolutely in lock step” with France, Britain and Germany on getting Iran to rejoin a nuclear deal. The four countries are also reportedly working with China and Russia to come up with an agreement to limit nuclear weapons developed in those countries.
— Reuters (@Reuters) October 31, 2021
“We still believe diplomacy is the best path forward for putting the nuclear program back in the box that had been in under the agreement, the so-called JCPOA. But we were also looking at, as necessary, other options if Iran is not prepared to engage quickly in good faith, to pick up where we left off in June, when these talks were interrupted by the change in government in Iran,” Blinken said. “And if we can, get it as quickly as possible.”
When questioned if “other options” included military action, Blinken said every option is on the table. Although, he noted Iran is moving aggressively with its program.
“The time it would take for it to produce enough fissile material for one nuclear weapon is getting shorter and shorter. The other thing that’s getting shorter is the runway we have, where, if we do get back into compliance with the agreement, and Iran gets back into compliance, we actually recapture all of the benefits of the agreement,” he said. “And that’s why it was so important that we get together with our close partners in this effort. We are all very much on the same page in terms of the path forward and we’ll see if Iran is serious.”