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Iran calls US, Israeli threats ‘illegal’, warns of ‘available options’ in reprisal

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US President Joe Biden (R) meets with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in the Oval Office at the White House on August 27, 2021, for their first face-to-face meeting during which they focused on Iran. (Photo by AFP)

Iran’s top security official says threatening to use “other options” against Iran – the terminology commonly used to refer to military action – is an "illegal threat" to another country, giving Iran the right to resort to its own “available options” in response.

US President Joe Biden used his first meeting with new Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to threaten to “turn to other options” against Iran if diplomacy failed.

“We’re putting diplomacy first and seeing where that takes us,” Biden said ahead of the meeting, held at the White House on Friday, “If diplomacy fails, we’re ready to turn to other options.”

By diplomacy, the US president was pointing to the talks in Vienna, Austria, to reinstate the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, which was abandoned by former US President Donald Trump in 2018.

Trump’s move was lauded by Israel at the time. Biden’s decision to rejoin the nuclear deal has been opposed by Bennett and his predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Biden also said he remains committed to ensuring that “Iran never develops a nuclear weapon,” while Iran has strongly rejected the accusation that it is after developing such weapons.

Bennett, for his part, said, “I was happy to hear your clear words that Iran will never be able to acquire a nuclear weapon and to emphasize that we’ll try the diplomatic route, but there’s other options.”

“The first meeting between #Bennett and #Biden and the emphasis on using ‘Other Options’ against #Iran, while being an illegal threat to another country, establishes the Islamic Republic of Iran’s right to reciprocal response to ‘Available Options,” Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani wrote in a tweet on Saturday.

According to Axios news outlet, during their meeting, Bennett presented Biden with what Israeli officials described as “a death by a thousand cuts” strategy toward the Islamic Republic.

The strategy, according to the Israeli officials, involves confronting Iran through a combination of many small actions across several fronts, including through the use of military and diplomacy, instead of a single dramatic strike.

In a letter to the president of the UN Security Council on Friday, an Iranian envoy at the UN warned Israel against acts of “nuclear terrorism” on Iran, after Israel’s minister for military affairs Benny Gantz threatened Iran with military action.

In her letter, Zahra Ershadi, the deputy permanent representative of Iran to the UN, also recounted Israel’s numerous measures against the Islamic Republic in the last two years, including the “terrorist acts against Iran’s nuclear scientists and centers, attacks against commercial vessels in the region as well as drone attacks and airstrikes against certain regional countries.”

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