Biden: Iranian Nuclear Threat 'Requires Careful Diplomacy'

In his first major speech aimed at an international audience, President Biden says the U.S. is willing to reopen talks on Tehran's nuclear program, warns of 'Iran's destabilizing activities across the Middle East'

Ben Samuels
Ben Samuels
President Joe Biden participates in a virtual event with the Munich Security Conference, on Friday.
President Joe Biden participates in a virtual event with the Munich Security Conference, on Friday.Credit: Patrick Semansky/AP
Ben Samuels
Ben Samuels

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden said on Friday that the U.S. is prepared to re-engage in negotiations on Iran's nuclear program alongside its European allies, arguing "The threat of nuclear proliferation continues to require careful diplomacy cooperation among us."

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Biden's remarks to the Munich Security Conference, his first major speech aimed at an international audience since becoming president last month, come a day after the State Department said the U.S. was ready to reopen negotiations with Iran and world powers concerning a return to the 2015 nuclear deal, which former President Donald Trump withdrew from in 2018.

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"We need transparency and communication to minimize the risk of strategic misunderstanding or mistakes," Biden said. "That's why we said we're prepared to reengage in negotiations with the P5+1 on Iran's nuclear program," he added, referring to the group of states parties to the agreement, which includes China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and Germany.

"We must also address Iran's destabilizing activities across the Middle East. We're going to work in close cooperation with our European and other partners as we proceed," Biden added.

The White House also announced the reversal of the Trump administration’s determination that all UN sanctions against Iran be restored and eased stringent restrictions on the domestic U.S. travel of Iranian diplomats posted to the United Nations.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters later on Friday the United States has no plan to withdraw so-called "snapback" sanctions against Iran.

Speaking to reporters on Air Force One as Biden flew to Michigan, Psaki said "there is no plan to take additional steps" on Iran in advance of having a "diplomatic conversation." Iran has demanded the United States end sanctions against Iranian targets.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier reiterated his opposition to a return to the 2015 deal, adding that Israel was in close contact with the United States on the matter.

When asked if the U.S. had consulted with its Mideast allies ahead of the developments, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said consultations "have dated back to the early hours of this administration."

"The president has made a number of calls to his foreign counterparts, most recently to the prime minister of Israel," Price said, adding: "Secretary Blinken has made calls to many of his foreign counterparts, numbering around 50. At this point, he has had numerous calls with counterparts in the region, including Israel and in the Gulf, as well. So, there have been closed consultations with those with those partners throughout."

Reuters contributed to this report.

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