Heard at Aspen

Blinken offers support for Biden’s judicial reform critiques, but emphasizes commitment to Israeli security

‘President Biden, more than anyone I know, is, in his gut, committed to Israel's security, and that will never change,’ Blinken said in remarks at the Aspen Security Forum

Dan Bayer, Aspen Security Forum

Secretary of State Tony Blinken at Aspen Security Forum in discussion with NBC News Chief, Washington and Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Andrea Mitchell.

Speaking at the Aspen Security Forum on Friday, Secretary of State Tony Blinken offered support for President Joe Biden’s recent comments criticizing Israeli judicial reform efforts, and said that they reflect sentiments both men have expressed to Israeli leaders behind the scenes.

“We come to this from a place where of course we have a unique relationship, a unique partnership with Israel spanning back decades,” Blinken said. “President Biden, more than anyone I know, is, in his gut, committed to Israel’s security, and that will never change.”

Blinken emphasized that “our own experiences as democracies” are a critical element of the ties that bind Israel and the U.S. together.

He added, “I think we’ve seen Israeli democracy in all of its vibrancy. It’s telling a remarkable story right now that’s playing out, and I’m confident the system will be able to deal effectively with it.”

Addressing Iran’s nuclear program, Blinken argued that the U.S. is now in better coordination with its European allies in countering Iran.

“One of the benefits of working to see if we could get back into the nuclear agreement… is that we’re in alignment with our European partners,” Blinken said. “And we’re working very closely together to deal with some of the excesses committed by the regime.”

Blinken noted that Iran has attempted to take “repressive actions against people halfway around the world who are saying and doing things that they don’t like — including in the United States.” Authorities have intercepted attempts to kidnap or assassinate former U.S. officials and Iranian dissidents inside the U.S.

He also warned that Iran’s nuclear breakout period is now “down to a matter of weeks,” blaming the Trump administration’s withdrawal in 2018 for the state of affairs. 

“I have a real concern about that, as well as provocative actions that they take with regard to the program,” Blinken said. “I have a lot of concerns about the actions they’re taking throughout the region to support various groups that are engaged in profoundly destabilizing activities.”

He added that Iranian malign activities have become “now a global enterprise,” with Iranian drones having “a real and terrible impact” on Ukrainian civilians. He echoed comments by CIA Director Bill Burns the day prior at the Aspen conference in describing the Iranian-Russian relationship as a “two-way street.”

Blinken also addressed Iran’s crackdown on anti-regime protesters at home, arguing that the U.S. had taken significant measures to assist the demonstrators.

“We have done a lot of work to try to help people who wanted their voices heard, not only in the sanctions, not only in the spotlighting, but also in work that we’ve done to provide [communications] technology to people in Iran,” Blinken said.

Subscribe now to
the Daily Kickoff

The politics and business news you need to stay up to date, delivered each morning in a must-read newsletter.