Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is calling on the United States to avoid rejoining the Iran nuclear deal. The moment came during a Tuesday press conference with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, whose visit to the region follows the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas that ended 11 days of fighting in Israel and Gaza.
“I can tell you that I hope that the United States will not go back to the old JCPOA because we believe that that deal paves the way for Iran to have an arsenal of nuclear weapons with international legitimacy,” Netanyahu said, referencing the Iran deal’s formal title: the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
“We also reiterated that whatever happens, Israel will always reserve the right to defend itself against a regime committed to our destruction, committed to getting the weapons of mass destruction for that end,” Netanyahu continued.
Citing the longstanding U.S.-Israeli relationship, Blinken reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to Israel’s security and defense. The secretary of state also said, however, that the United States would remain steadfast in attempting to rejoin the nuclear agreement with Iran.
“As the prime minister mentioned, we had a detailed discussion about Israel’s security needs, including replenishing Iron Dome,” Blinken said. “We’ll continue to strengthen all aspects of our longstanding partnership. And that includes consulting closely with Israel, as we did today, on the ongoing negotiations in Vienna around a potential return to the Iran nuclear agreement, at the same time as we continue to work together to counter Iran’s destabilizing actions in the region.”
Since taking office in January, President Joe Biden has made rejoining the Iran nuclear deal a core component of his Middle East foreign policy. Last month, the Associated Press reported that the administration was considering lifting Trump-era sanctions in an effort to revive the agreement that President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from in 2018.
“The Biden administration is considering a near wholesale rollback of some of the most stringent Trump-era sanctions imposed on Iran in a bid to get the Islamic Republic to return to compliance with a landmark 2015 nuclear accord,” the report read. “American officials have refused to discuss which sanctions are being considered for removal. But they have said they are open to lifting any sanctions that are inconsistent with the nuclear deal or that deny Iran the relief it would be entitled to should it return to compliance with the accord. Because of the complex nature of the sanctions architecture, that could include non-nuclear sanctions, such as those tied to terrorism, missile development and human rights.”