President Biden said the Iran nuclear deal was “dead” in a video that was taken in early November and surfaced online this week.
Biden made the comments on November 4 on the sidelines of an election rally in California when asked by a woman if he could announce that the nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA, is dead.
Biden replied, “It is dead, but we are not gonna announce it. Long story.” Biden administration officials have made clear in recent months that reviving the JCPOA was no longer a priority, but the president’s comments are the surest sign that the accord won’t be revived.
A White House National Security Council spokesman told Axios on Tuesday that the JCPOA “is not our focus right now. It’s not on the agenda.” Since negotiations between the US and Iran broke down over the summer, the US has increased sanctions on Iran and expressed support for protesters inside the country.
As a candidate, President Biden vowed to return to the JCPOA, and Iran made clear that it was ready to bring its nuclear program back into the restrictions set by the agreement if the US lifted all Trump-era sanctions. But Biden refused to lift sanctions and instead waited months to enter indirect negotiations with Iran.
Biden had a chance to revive the JCPOA during negotiations in 2021 with the previous Iranian government of former President Hassan Rouhani, but he rejected a way forward. A report from Responsible Statecraft revealed that the Iranian sought a guarantee that Biden would stay in the JCPOA for the rest of his own term, but to the surprise of Tehran, the White House said it wasn’t ready to make the commitment.
By failing to revive the JCPOA and increasing sanctions on Iran, Biden has continued the so-called “maximum pressure campaign” of his predecessor, Donald Trump. A UN special rapporteur issued a report in September that said US sanctions on Iran have caused medicine shortages and food insecurity and called for the economic embargo to be lifted.