White House spokesperson: Israel will make its own decisions

White House press secretary says the Iranian attack on Israeli-managed ship will not affect nuclear negotiations with Iran.

Elad Benari ,

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki
Official White House Photo by Chandler West

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Monday that the Iranian attack on an Israeli-managed ship near the coast of Oman would not affect US negotiations with Iran on a return to the 2015 nuclear deal.

“As a sovereign country, Israel is going to make their own decisions” regarding a possible retaliation to the attack, Psaki told reporters.

“But I will say that as it relates to our own engagement in nuclear talks — which we, of course, do have authorities over or do have decisions to make there — our view is that every single challenge and threat we face from Iran would be made more pronounced and dangerous by an unconstrained nuclear program,” she added.

“So, put another way, constraining Iran’s nuclear program by returning to the JCPOA will put us in a better position to address these other problems. It doesn’t mean that it will take care of the other issues that had been ongoing concerns we’ve had with Iran. They are a bad actor on the global stage. They have threatened our own military, as we all know. But we continue to believe that pursuing a diplomatic path forward, that pursuing an opportunity to make sure we have greater visibility into what their nuclear capabilities are is in our national interest,” continued Psaki.

Earlier on Monday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken promised a "collective response" to Iran following the attack on the Japanese-owned, Israeli-managed MV Mercer Street last Friday.

Blinken said that US was "working with UK, Romania, Israel, and others on determining the response." He added that the US was confident Iran carried out the attack, calling it "tremendously irresponsible."

A spokesman for Iran's Foreign Ministry on Monday vehemently denied claims that his country was behind the attack.

The spokesman called the accusations "baseless and provocative," and warned that Iran would respond to any retaliatory action against it, "immediately and determinedly".

Israel accused the Iranian government of carrying out the attack, and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett hinted at a possible Israeli response.

“We know how to convey the message to Iran in our own way," he said.

On Sunday, Britain condemned Iran and accused it of carrying out Friday’s deadly attack, saying it has concluded that Iran is likely to blame for the drone bombing.

“UK assessments have concluded that it is highly likely that Iran attacked the MV MERCER STREET in international waters off Oman using one or more Unmanned Aerial Vehicles,” the UK said.