Jul 14, 2022 - World

Biden: U.S. is "not going to wait forever" for Iran on nuclear deal

US President Joe Biden (L) and Israel's caretaker Prime Minister Yair Lapid

President Biden and acting Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid. Photo: Atef Safadi/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said in Jerusalem Thursday that the U.S. won't "wait forever" for Iran to respond to its proposal to revive the 2015 nuclear deal.

Driving the news: The last round of indirect talks between the U.S. and Iran in Qatar two weeks ago ended with no progress and no date for another round of talks.

  • These talks might be the last chance for the parties to reach an agreement before the nuclear deal becomes irrelevant, as Iran has taken steps to advance its nuclear program and limit the work of UN inspectors.

Behind the scenes: Biden made the comments at a press conference with acting Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid after the two leaders held a private meeting that lasted for more than an hour.

  • Iran and Saudi normalization steps with Israel were the two issues Biden and Lapid discussed.
  • Israeli officials said Lapid asked Biden in the meeting how long the U.S. will continue talks with Iran. Lapid told Biden the Iranians are playing for time and the U.S. should put a deadline on the talks. 
  • Israeli officials said Biden told Lapid in private the same thing he said about Iran in public at the press conference.

The big picture: After their meeting, Biden and Lapid signed the "Jerusalem Declaration" on the strategic relationship between the countries. One of the clauses in the declaration focused on Iran.

  • "The U.S. stresses that integral to this pledge is the commitment never to allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon, and that it is prepared to use all elements of its national power to ensure that outcome," the declaration reads. 

What they're saying: The differences of opinion in how to deal with the Iranian nuclear threat were clear at Thursday's press conference, with Lapid pushing for a tougher U.S. line.

  • "Words will not stop them, Mr. President. Diplomacy will not stop them. The only thing that will stop Iran is knowing that if they continue to develop their nuclear program the free world will use force. The only way to stop them is to put a credible military threat on the table," Lapid said.
  • Biden responded by saying that he will never allow Iran to get a nuclear weapon, but he then stressed that diplomacy is the best way forward.
  • "We have laid out for the leadership of Iran what we are willing to accept in order to get back into the JCPOA," Biden said at the press conference, referring to the nuclear deal.
  • "We are waiting for their response. I am not certain when that will happen but we are not going to wait forever," he added.
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