Blinken attended the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's budget session to answer questions on the US State Department's fiscal year 2023 budget.
In addition to many regional and global issues, the ongoing negotiations with Iran in Vienna and Tehran's nuclear program were also discussed at the meeting :
Blinken, blaming the previous administration on Iran, said that the withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (OKEP) agreement signed with Iran in 2015 and the strategy of maximum pressure on Tehran resulted in the opposite of expectations, that Iran's nuclear program went much further, that the Iranian-backed forces had reached the US level .
Regarding the increasing attacks of Iran-backed forces against the United States, the US Minister said:
"Since we started negotiating for the agreement, until the end of the agreement, the attacks against our forces between 2012 and 2018 were much less than the attacks in the process after he withdrew from the agreement, recognized the Iranian Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization and killed (Iranian general Qasim) Soleimani. We saw that the attacks escalated dramatically in 2019-2020. The attacks against our forces in the region increased by 400 percent in this process.”
Responding to the criticism that the agreement did not contain any provisions regarding Iran's ballistic missile program, support for terrorist organizations and Tehran's "many malicious activities" in the region, Blinken said that such activities could go much further if Iran had nuclear power.
Blinken affirmed that returning to the OKEP agreement on Iran's nuclear program did not prevent the United States from pressing on Iran on other issues.
Stating that their main aim is to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, Blinken claimed that this can be done in two ways, the first way is an agreement and they have seen it effective before.
"We've also tested the other option, which is to pull out of the deal and put more pressure on Iran, and we've seen the results".
The result was that the timeframe for obtaining fissile material for nuclear weapons, which was postponed to 1 year, advanced to several weeks. In the process, it installed more complex centrifuges that worked to produce more stockpiles of nuclear material”.