U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s statement yesterday that “every option” was on the table in light of Iran’s refusal to return to the 2015 nuclear deal was big news. While countless leading media outlets highlighted this significant development, Haaretz‘s English edition carefully dropped the key development from its coverage.
As the Associated Press reported (“US, Israel say they are exploring a ‘Plan B’ for Iran“):
The United States and Israel said Wednesday they are exploring a “Plan B” for dealing with Iran if the Islamic Republic does not return in good faith to negotiations to salvage the languishing landmark 2015 nuclear deal.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said discussions between their two countries have begun on “other options” should Iran reject an offer to come back into compliance with the agreement if the U.S. rejoins it.
They did not elaborate on what those options might be, but there are a wide range of non-diplomatic options that could be considered, ranging from stepped up sanctions to covert or military actions. A Biden administration priority has been to revive the deal and abandoning that goal would be a blow to its foreign policy objectives.
The remarks were a rare acknowledgment by the U.S. that it is looking at what to do in the event diplomacy with Iran fails. (Emphasis added).
Indeed, during the press conference, Blinken twice noted the possibility of other options in light of Iran’s failure to return to the deal. First, in response to a reporter’s question, the Secretary of State said (52:51 minutes in video above):
And so that runway is getting shorter. I’m not going to put a specific date on it, but with every passing day and Iran’s refusal to engage in good faith, the runway gets short. And so as the foreign minister said, we are discussing this among ourselves, and we will look at every option to deal with the challenge posed by Iran. We continue to believe that diplomacy is the most effective way to do that, but it takes two to engage in diplomacy, and we have not – we have not seen from Iran a willingness to do that at this point. (Emphasis added.)
Later (57:10), answering another question, he reiterated:
And as the minister said, we are prepared to turn to other options if Iran doesn’t change course, and these consultations with our allies and partners are a part of that. (Emphasis added.)
The Associated Press was just one of many media outlets which focused on Blinken’s reference to “every option.” The Guardian, for instance, reported (“US and Israel exploring ‘plan b’ for if Iran does not resume nuclear talks“):
“We will look at every option to deal with the challenge posed by Iran,” Blinken said. “And we continue to believe that diplomacy is the most effective way to do that. But, it takes two to engage in diplomacy, and we have not seen from Iran a willingness to do that at this point.”
He did not elaborate, but Lapid, without being contradicted, said of Blinken‘s comments: “If a terror regime is going to acquire a nuclear weapon, we must act. We must make clear the civilized world won’t allow it.”
CNN (“Blinken says US is prepared to turn to ‘other options’ if nuclear diplomacy with Iran fails“), The Washington Post (“As Iran nuclear talks fail to make headway, Biden administration suggests increasing openness to a Plan B“) Agence France Presse (“Echoing Israel, US hints at force if Iran diplomacy fails“) and Voice of America (minute 1:1o) are among the additional media outlets to recognize the news importance of Blinken’s remarks on other options.
Haaretz, on the other hand, was a complete anomaly, entirely ignoring Blinken’s indications that options besides resuming talks are on the table. Haaretz‘s Ben Samuels studiously dropped any mention of options (“Blinken: ‘Time Running Short’ On Iran Nuclear Deal“). He reported:
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday “time is running short” on an Iranian return to full compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, but stressed in a joint press conference with Israel’s foreign minister that the U.S. believes “the diplomatic path is the most effective way to ensure” Tehran doesn’t acquire nuclear weapons.
“What we’re seeing from Tehran suggests that they’re not” ready to return to the nuclear deal, Blinken said. According to him, “we’re getting closer to a point where returning to full compliance with the JCPOA will not recapture” the benefits of the nuclear deal, which the U.S. withdrew from in 2018.
A note appended to the bottom of Haaretz‘s article indicates: “Reuters contributed to this report.”
But Reuters, for its part, had reported (“U.S., EU, Israel adopt tough tone on Iran, mull options“):
U.S., Israeli and EU officials took a tough line toward Iran on Wednesday, with U.S. officials saying they would consider all options if Tehran failed to revive the 2015 nuclear deal and Israel saying it reserved the right to act. …
“We will look at every option to deal with the challenge posed by Iran,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told a joint news conference with Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed.
Reuters’ compliance with Samuels’ preferred narrative mirrors Iran adherence to the 2015 nuclear deal. Samuels, it seems, himself opted for Plan B: editing out the most important of the story instead of reporting the facts as they are.