Jerusalem, Jul 13 (EFE).- US President Joe Biden said in an interview rebroadcast on Wednesday that he remains ready to return to the nuclear pact with Iran but that doing so depends on Tehran, adding that he is not ruling out military action as a “last resort” if the Iranians continue to pursue their apparent aim of acquiring nuclear weapons.
In an interview with Israel’s Channel 12, taped before the president’s arrival in the Jewish state on Wednesday on a Middle Eastern tour that will also take him to Palestinian territory and Saudi Arabia, Biden emphasized that “The only thing worse than the Iran that exists now is an Iran with nuclear weapons,” although he added that the option of striking a renewed nuclear deal with Tehran is his priority for reducing tensions with the Islamic state.
In Biden’s judgment it still makes sense to return to the 2015 nuclear pact that his Republican predecessor Donald Trump withdrew the US from in 2018, a move that Biden said he considered “a gigantic mistake,” given that now Iran is “closer to a nuclear weapon now than they were before.”
The possibility of reaching an agreement with Tehran, though, “now is up to” Iran, the US leader added.
Washington and Tehran have indirectly negotiated returning to the pact in Vienna since 2021, and recently a new round of talks was held in Qatar, although those discussions bore no fruit.
On the other hand, the US president said that he will not remove Iran’s Revolutionary Guards from the US list of terrorist groups despite pressure from Tehran, although this might be something that could derail a final accord between the two countries.
Meanwhile, when asked about exercising the military option against Iran if it does not renounce its nuclear plans, Biden did not specify if he had discussed that matter with Israel.
The Jewish state – Iran’s main rival in the region – has repeatedly opposed a US return to the nuclear deal and has frequently emphasized that it is reserving the right to unilaterally take any action it deems necessary against Iran.
Regarding his Middle Eastern tour, which began Wednesday in Israel, Biden stressed that the trip seeks to increase “stability” in the region, and thus it “makes sense” for him to visit Saudi Arabia.
He said that stability in the Middle East is overwhelmingly in the interest of the US and Israel and that it’s also in both countries’ interest for the Jewish state to be more integrated in the region and accepted as an equal by the surrounding Muslim nations.
In addition, he said that given the current situation of international instability, his visit to the region is designed to establish a new profile for the US vis-a-vis its main rivals.
According to Biden, some people thought that the US had distanced itself from the region, creating a “vacuum” that would be filled by Russia and China, but Washington cannot allow that to happen.
Regarding whether the trip will lead to closer relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel, Biden said that he wants to both nations to accept the existence of each other, adding that strengthening links will not result in a formal normalization of diplomatic relations between the two countries since that will “take time.”
Biden went on to say that the more integrated Israel is in the region the more likely it will be that there will be a way for Jerusalem to reach an agreement with the Palestinians.