In a newly surfaced video shot at a Nov. 4 midterm election rally in Oceanside, Calif., President Biden told a woman in attendance that the 2015 U.S. nuclear deal with Iran was “dead,” but that his administration would not be making an official announcement confirming its status.
At the rally, a woman is filmed asking the president if he can declare that the nuclear deal, which the Biden administration has spent the last two years attempting to restart, is, in fact, no longer possible.
“President Biden, would you please announce that JCPOA is dead? Can you just announce that?” the woman asks in reference to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the deal reached when Biden was vice president in the administration of President Barack Obama, which was intended to keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
“It is dead, but we are not going to announce it,” Biden is heard telling the woman. “Long story, but we’re going to make sure.”
Former President Donald Trump walked away from the deal in 2018, and during the first two years of his presidency, Biden had hoped to resuscitate it. But Iran reneged on key provisions laid out in the deal, refusing access to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors to nuclear sites and shutting off cameras that monitored activity at some facilities.
Several recent developments, including the indictment of an Iranian national alleged to have plotted to kill John Bolton, Trump’s former national security adviser, the attack on the author Salman Rushdie and the persistent protests in Iran for women’s rights, further complicated hopes of restoring the terms of the deal.
In August, Iran offered to resume its compliance with the JCPOA, but that offer was met with skepticism by U.S. officials. On Tuesday, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby confirmed that the administration considers that the negotiations with Iran are at an impasse.
“The Iran deal is not our focus right now,” Kirby said in a call with reporters.
Republican lawmakers had roundly criticized Biden’s attempts to restart the deal, and Democrats in both chambers had begun voicing their opposition to it as well.
Iran is widely viewed as being on the brink of producing nuclear weapons, using enriched uranium produced in its own power plants.
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