Obama Aide: If Iran Breaches Nuclear Deal, All Options on Table - Including Military Action

Ben Rhodes, U.S. deputy national security adviser, says sanctions will be lifted gradually.

ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid
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U.S. President Barack Obama, left, talking with Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communication Ben Rhodes, center, and Senior Adviser David Axelrod in the Oval Office. Credit: Reuters
ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

Following the media blitz Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu began in the United States this week against the framework nuclear agreement between Iran and the world powers, the White House on Monday responded with a counter-campaign with messages aimed at calming the Israeli public.

Ben Rhodes, the U.S. deputy national security adviser for strategic communication told two of  Israel's top television stations in interviews broadcast synchronously that if Iran were to breach the agreement, President Barack Obama would consider all of the options for response – including military action.

"If Iran violates all options are on the table," Rhodes said. "The president, this president or the next president, will have all options on the table including military one. If there is a violation, all options will be considered."

White House Speaker Josh Earnest told reporters in his daily briefing that the United States would insist during the negotiations with Iran over the next few months – through June 30, when an inclusive agreement is to be reached – that the sanctions on the Islamic Republic be lifted gradually.

Earnest's remarks followed the days of contradictory messages emerging from Tehran and Washington following the announcement of the framework agreement in Lausanne last week. The Iranians claim that all of the sanctions will be lifted at once after the International Atomic Energy Agency decides if it will implement the deal. The Americans, for their part, have clarified that the lifting of sanctions will not happen all at once or immediately.

Earnest said that the timeline and stages for lifting the sanctions from Iran has still not been finalized between Tehran and the powers, and that the negotiations on the matter will continue until the end of the talks this summer.

"Details of the phase-out of the sanctions have not been agreed to," Earnest told reporters. "It is the strong view of the administration that it would not be wise ... to simply take away sanctions on day one."

In his interviews with the Israeli television stations, Rhodes also referred to the issue of sanctions – a step he said that Iran would have to "earn."

Rhodes added that the American sanctions would be removed following an executive order which could be quickly overturned if Iran breaches the deal. The six Security Council resolutions under which the sanctions were imposed will be replaced with a new resolution that will define which sanctions will remain in place – include the sanctions on acquisition of sensitive technology and sanction on missile technologies.

U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, who made an unusual appearance at the White House briefing, clarified that any Iranian breach of the agreement would carry implications – including the immediate re-imposition of sanctions. In the framework of understandings adopted by the powers, it was decided none of the permanent members of the Security Council – U.S., Russia, China, Britain and Russia – could use its veto powers alone in order to block the resumption of sanctions.