U.S. is "a long way" from return to Iran nuclear deal, Blinken says

Foreign Minister-designate Tony Blinken said in his confirmation hearing on Tuesday that the Biden government "is far from implementing its plan to revert to the Iranian nuclear deal and plans to consult with Israel and the Gulf States beforehand."
Why It Matters: America's Middle East partners have publicly voiced their concerns over a possible return to the 2015 deal and urged the Biden administration to consult with them first.
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State of play: President-elect Biden plans to revert to the deal by lifting the sanctions if Iran again complies with the restrictions on its nuclear program. In the next phase, Biden wants to negotiate a broader, longer-term deal.
Blinken said these negotiations would include the Iranian missile program and regional activities.
What they say: Blinken said Trump's withdrawal from the nuclear deal brought Iran closer to obtaining a nuclear weapon because Tehran started violating its terms. "Iran's outbreak time, which was one year under the nuclear deal, is now only 3-4 months," Blinken said at the hearing.
Yes, but: While Blinken insisted that the US would meet its commitments if Iran did so, he said the new administration would not return to the deal before examining whether Iran was ready to fully comply to return.
Notable: Blinken said he had "shed no tears" over the US assassination of Iranian Quds Force commander Qassim Soleimani a year ago, but added that it made America less safe.
Go deeper:
Netanyahu helps fears that "Obama" will shape Biden's Iran policy
Netanyahu could appoint an envoy for the Iranian government, Biden
Israel urges Biden to spare Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt
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