President Joe Biden declared the Iran nuclear deal “dead” in a newly surfaced video, the starkest sign yet that U.S. officials have moved on from reviving the landmark agreement to contain the country’s nuclear program.
Under the 2015 deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran had agreed to largely halt its nuclear weapons program in exchange for billions of dollars in sanctions relief. President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the deal in 2018. Iran has subsequently increased its nuclear development beyond limits originally laid out in the JCPOA.
In the video, which circulated on Twitter this week, Biden is shaking hands on the sidelines of a Nov. 4 election rally when a woman asks him if he can “please announce that JCPOA is dead,” Axios reported.
“No,” Biden responds.
“No? Why not?” the woman asks.
“A lot of reasons,” he answers. “It is dead, but we’re not gonna announce it.” He calls the situation a “long story” before the woman interrupts him.
It had been a Biden administration goal to renegotiate the Iran deal. But now it’s second-guessing sanctions relief amid Iran’s violent crackdowns against ongoing nationwide protests and its military aid for Russia’s Ukraine invasion.
In a statement to Axios, a White House National Security Council spokesperson said “the JCPOA is not our focus right now. It’s not on the agenda.”
“We don’t see a deal coming together anytime soon,” the spokesperson said, highlighting the crackdowns and Russia aid. “Our focus is on practical ways to confront them in these areas.”
But Iran and the European Union are still meeting to hammer out a deal, even as the U.S. and EU have both put new sanctions on the country since the protests erupted in September, as reported by Al Jazeera.
A spokesman for China recently urged the U.S. to respond “positively” to the “goodwill and flexibility” recently shown by Iran, saying the talks would hit a “dead end” if they were influenced by “other issues.”