Thursday, August 18, 2022

Biden says US won’t wait ‘forever’ for Iran on nuclear deal

President Joe Biden said Thursday that the United States is “not going to wait forever” for Iran to rejoin a dormant nuclear deal, a day after saying he’d be willing to use force against Tehran as a last resort, if necessary.
At a news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid following private talks about Iran’s rapidly progressing nuclear programme, Biden said the US had laid out for the Iranian leadership a path to return to the nuclear deal and was still waiting for a response.
“When that will come, I’m not certain,” Biden said. “But we’re not going to wait forever.” Even as he suggested that his patience with Iran was running low, Biden held out hope that Iran can be persuaded to rejoin the agreement. “I continue to believe that diplomacy is the best way to achieve this outcome,” he said.
Biden’s desire for a diplomatic solution contrasted with Lapid, who said Iran must face a real threat of force in order to give up on its nuclear ambition.
“The Iranian regime must know that if they continue to deceive the world they will pay a heavy price,” Lapid said at the news conference. “The only way to stop them is to put a credible military threat on the table.”
Lapid suggested that he and Biden were in agreement, despite his tougher rhetoric toward Iran.
“I don’t think there’s a light between us,” he said. “We cannot allow Iran to become nuclear.”
Resurrecting the Iran nuclear deal brokered by Barack Obama’s administration and abandoned by Donald Trump in 2018 was a key priority for Biden as he entered office. But administration officials have become increasingly pessimistic about the chances of getting Tehran back into compliance. Israeli officials have sought to use Biden’s first visit to the Middle East as president to underscore that Iran’s nuclear programme has progressed too far and encourage the Biden administration to scuttle efforts to revive a 2015 agreement with Iran to limit its development.
Israel opposed the original nuclear deal, reached under Obama in 2015, because its limitations on Iran’s nuclear enrichment would expire and the agreement didn’t address Iran’s ballistic missile program or military activities in the region.
Instead of the US reentering the deal, which Trump withdrew from in 2018, Israel would prefer strict sanctions in hopes of leading to a more sweeping accord.
The US president, who is set to travel to Saudi Arabia on Friday, said he also stressed to Lapid the importance of Israel becoming “totally integrated” in the region.


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