The Biden administration isn’t interested in a nuclear deal with Iran, at least for now.
A newly resurfaced video shows President Joe Biden declaring the Iran nuclear deal “dead,” though he hedges and says the United States won’t formally announce it. The video was shared on Twitter by an Iranian software engineer living in the United States, who said that it was originally captured in California on November 4.
Biden is asked by a member of the crowd to admit that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the official name for the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, is dead: “Can you just announce that?”
“No,” Biden responds, adding that he couldn’t do so for “a lot of reasons.”
But after that initial denial, the president appears to change his message and goes on to admit, “It is dead, but we’re not gonna announce it.”
“We just don’t want deals with the mullahs,” the person in the crowd says. “They don’t represent us. They’re not our government.”
“Oh I know they don’t represent you,” Biden says, “but they’ll have a nuclear weapon that they represent.”
Thanks to the video’s brevity, Biden’s statements aren’t entirely clear, but Axios got an administration official to confirm the core aspects: that Biden’s administration is not currently interested in a nuclear deal with Iran.
“The JCPOA is not our focus right now. It’s not on the agenda,” a White House National Security Council spokesperson told Axios.
“We don’t see a deal coming together anytime soon,” the spokesperson added, referring to Iran’s brutal crackdown on protesters and its support for Russia in its war on Ukraine. “Our focus is on practical ways to confront them in these areas.”
In October, U.S. envoy for Iran Robert Malley also said that the administration is “not going to waste time” on trying to revive the nuclear deal. The Biden administration has voiced support for the protesters in Iran, and last week the U.S. played a large role in kicking Iran off the U.N. women’s rights commission.
The video of Biden comes at a sensitive time, as EU and Iranian officials on Tuesday met in Jordan to discuss reviving nuclear negotiations.
Iran is also in the midst of a three-day economic shutdown, which is set to end Wednesday evening. Daily protests have rocked Iran since the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Jina Amini in police custody in September. The Iranian government has cracked down on these protests with brute force. Since Amini’s death, more than 500 other Iranians have been killed, including nearly 70 children, and more than 18,000 arrested, according to figures from the Human Rights Activists News Agency.
Iranian protesters have called for an end to the Islamic Republic—and for the West to stop saving its murderers. A nuclear deal with Iran would involve some sort of sanctions relief, as it did last time around, and is seen by many as extending a lifeline to the regime at a particularly precarious time.