White House remains silent after Blinken says US not involved in Israeli strike on Iran

Secdretary of State says he is focused on ‘work to deescalate tensions’ along with his fellow G7 foreign ministers

Andrew Feinberg
Washington, DC
Friday 19 April 2024 22:34 BST
Only thing standing between Gaza and ceasefire is Hamas, Antony Blinken says

The White House is staying silent on Israel’s recent retaliatory attack on Iran despite statements from America’s top diplomat denying any US involvement.

Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Friday opened her daily press briefing with a preemptive refusal to comment on the incident, which Iranian officials have largely appeared to have shrugged off.

“I know there’s a lot a lot of interest in reports from the Middle East overnight, and we understand that. I’m going to say it now, though: I know you all will certainly ask me about it, that we do not have any comment on the reports at this time,” she said.

Ms Jean-Pierre would not even offer an answer as to why she was left unable to comment.

The White House’s relative silence stood in stark contrast from the relative openness it exhibited earlier in the week when a trio of top defence officials were made available to brief reporters about American involvement in the successful defence Israel had launched against the more than 300 separate munitions launched its way by Iran.

In the wake of that defensive success, which reportedly saw 99 per cent of the Iranian rockets and drones shot down, President Joe Biden urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “take the win” and asked him not to escalate further.

Ms Jean-Pierre’s reluctance to address the subject of the Israeli strike came just hours after Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US played no role in an Israeli drone strike on Iran that was retaliation for last week’s Iranian strike on Israel.

Speaking at a news conference in Capri during a Group of Seven (G7) ministerial meeting, Mr Blinken repeatedly declined to answer questions about the Israeli strike.

Instead, he repeated a statement indicating that the US was not involved.

“I’m not going to speak to that except to say that the United States has not been involved in any offensive operations,”  he said.

“What we’re focused on, what the G7 is focused on, and again, it’s reflected in our statement, and in our conversation, is our work to de-escalate tensions, to de-escalate from any potential conflicts,” he added.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said the US played no role in an Israeli drone strike on Iran on Friday (REUTERS)

The Israeli government has not, to date, made any public statement about what appeared to be a retaliatory strike on the Iranian city of Isfahan early Friday morning. The city hosts one of Iran’s major nuclear sites, but the International Atomic Energy Agency has said there was no damage to any part of any nuclear facility.

In Tehran, Iranian state media appeared to downplay the significance of the incident while indicating that the Iranian government won’t respond in kind.

Speaking at the same press conference alongside Mr Blinken, Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani said the United States provided the information at a Friday morning session that was changed at the last minute to address the suspected attack.

Mr Tajani, who chaired the G7 ministerial meeting which took place ahead of this summer’s Group of Seven leaders’ summit, said Mr Blinken had told his colleagues that the US had been “informed at the last minute” by Israel about the drones.

“But there was no sharing of the attack by the US. It was a mere information,” he added.

With additional reporting by agencies

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