Footage, apparently from November, shows the US president claiming the nuclear accord is no more.
The White House stated on Tuesday that reviving the nuclear deal with Iran is “not our focus right now,” after an unconfirmed video of US President Joe Biden calling the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) “dead” was put online.
“There is no progress happening with respect to the Iran deal now. We don’t anticipate any progress anytime in the near future. That’s just not our focus,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters on a briefing call, when asked about the video.
Biden apparently made the admission after a campaign rally last month in California. In the short video, posted on Twitter by user Damon Maghsoudi and reported by Axios on Tuesday, a woman asks Biden to announce that the JCPOA is dead.
“No,” Biden replies. “It is dead, but we are not gonna announce it.”
When she asks why, he replies, “For a lot of reasons. Long story.”
Told that the protesters don’t want any deals with the Iranian government, Biden says, “I know they don’t represent you. But they will have a nuclear weapon that they’ll represent.”
The exchange apparently took place on November 4, at a Democrat campaign event in Oceanside, California. It was unclear why it took more than six weeks for it to be made public.
The JCPOA was a deal struck between the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany (P5+1) on one side and Iran on the other, in July 2015, when Barack Obama was the US president and Biden his vice-president. The arrangement provided for lifting the UN sanctions against Iran in exchange for strict oversight of Tehran’s nuclear program.
In May 2018, Obama’s successor Donald Trump unilaterally repudiated the deal on behalf of the US. Biden, who replaced Trump in 2021, officially sought to revive it but talks with Iranian representatives went nowhere. The most recent initiative to salvage the deal was a compromise proposed by the EU in August, which would penalize Washington if it reneged again.
“We were very close,” but Biden got “cold feet” ahead of the midterm elections, Professor Seyed Mohammad Marandi of the University of Tehran told Al-Mayadeen TV on Monday.