WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Friday that negotiation was his first choice, but that if his effort to resurrect the Iran nuclear agreement fails, he will explore alternative measures.
“We’re putting diplomacy first and seeing where it leads us,” Biden said at an Oval Office meeting that had been postponed due to the suicide bombing in Afghanistan. “However, if diplomacy fails, we’re prepared to pursue other avenues.”
Bennett arrived at the White House with the goal of persuading Biden not to re-enter the Iran nuclear agreement, which was negotiated during the Obama administration and then rejected by Trump.
Since the United States withdrew from the agreement in 2018, Tehran has gradually abandoned all of the accord’s restrictions on nuclear enrichment. In comparison to 3.67 percent under the accord, the government currently enriches a tiny amount of uranium up to 63 percent, a short distance from weapons-grade levels. Even though Tehran claims its program is benign, it also spins considerably more sophisticated centrifuges and more of them than were authorized under the agreement, alarming nuclear nonproliferation specialists.
Bennett stated that he had brought his own scheme to impede Iran’s nuclear goals, which he would discuss with Biden in private. He expressed his delight that the two presidents agreed that Iran should never be permitted to possess nuclear weapons.
“Iran is the world’s leading supplier of terrorism, insecurity, and human rights violations,” says the report, “Bennett said. “And the Iranians are spinning their centrifuges at Natanz and Fordo as we speak. And we both believe that we ought to put a stop to it.”
The meeting, which had been set for Thursday, was postponed for one day as Biden dealt with the fallout from a suicide bombing at Kabul airport that killed 13 American personnel.
On Thursday evening, the two talked by phone, with Netanyahu sending Biden his sympathies. Bennett expressed his sorrow for the loss of US service members during their Oval Office meeting.
Bennett stated unequivocally that he opposes an Iran agreement, claiming that Tehran has already advanced in its uranium enrichment and that lifting sanctions will provide Iran with greater resources to help Israel’s regional adversaries.
“These days demonstrate what the world would be like if a radical Islamic dictatorship possessed a nuclear weapon,” says the author “Bennett remarked. “For the entire globe, that marriage would be a nuclear nightmare.”
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met separately with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Wednesday to discuss Iran and other problems. This is his first trip to the United States as Prime Minister.
Bennett told his Cabinet before the trip that he would tell Trump, “Now is the moment to stop the Iranians, to stop this thing,” and that he would not re-enter “a nuclear agreement that has already expired and is no longer relevant, even to those who thought it was once relevant.”
Biden has made it plain that he wants to find a way to save the Obama administration’s landmark 2015 agreement. However, as regional tensions rise, indirect negotiations between the US and Iran have stagnated, and Washington continues to impose crushing sanctions on the nation.
Bennett’s trip to Washington comes only weeks after Iran’s new president, Ebrahim Raisi, was inaugurated.
Raisi, a 60-year-old conservative cleric with deep links to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has indicated that he will interact with the United States. However, he has taken a hard position, rejecting talks aimed at restricting Iranian missile development and backing for regional militias, which the Biden administration wants to address in a new agreement.
Iran’s possible “breakout” — the time it takes to gather enough fissile material for a single nuclear weapon — is now a matter of months or less, according to administration officials.
However, a senior administration source, speaking on the condition of anonymity ahead of the meetings, said the government believes the Trump administration’s maximum pressure campaign has emboldened Iran to pursue its nuclear program.
Bennett also wants to avoid the mistakes made by his predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu.
After often fighting with President Barack Obama, Netanyahu developed a tight connection with Trump. Biden, who said on Friday that he had met with every Israeli prime leader since Golda Meir, has had his own issues with Netanyahu.
Biden referred to Netanyahu as a “counterproductive” and “far-right” leader during his most recent White House campaign.
On Friday, the two sides downplayed the Palestinian issue, ostensibly to prevent public conflict at this early stage of their partnership.
Given the lack of progress in diplomatic negotiations with the Palestinians, both men looked to be more interested in bolstering the new Israeli administration during their first face-to-face meetings.