Biden told team to ‘be prepared’ for failed nuclear talks with Iran: Psaki


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President Biden has told his national security team to “be prepared” if diplomatic talks fail to stymie Iran from developing its nuclear capabilities

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday that Biden continues to believe the best way to stop Iran’s nuclear program is through pursuing diplomatic channels. 

But after months of indirectly negotiating with Iran the administration’s patience appears to be wearing thin.

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President Hassan Rouhani, second right, listens to head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi while visiting an exhibition of Iran's new nuclear achievements in Tehran, Iran, in April. (Iranian Presidency Office/AP)

President Hassan Rouhani, second right, listens to head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi while visiting an exhibition of Iran’s new nuclear achievements in Tehran, Iran, in April. (Iranian Presidency Office/AP)

“Given the ongoing advances in Iran’s nuclear program the president has asked his team to be prepared in the event that diplomacy fails,” Psaki told reporters. “We must turn to other options and that requires preparations.

“We have made clear to Iran that the only path out of sanctions is through nuclear compliance,” she said, adding that the Biden administration has kept all sanctions it inherited from the previous administration in place. 

“If diplomacy cannot get on track soon and if Iran’s nuclear program continues to accelerate then we will have no choice but to take additional measures to further restrict Iran’s revenue-producing sectors” the chief White House spokesperson said.

The administration is taking steps to show Iranian officials it is serious in its intent to economically burden Tehran.  

Led by the director for the Office of Foreign Assets Control, Andrea Gacki, a delegation of treasury officials will head to the United Arab Emirates next week to ensure that existing sanctions against Iran are being complied with. 

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President Joe Biden speaks on the economy during an event at the South Court Auditorium at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on Nov. 23, 2021,

President Joe Biden speaks on the economy during an event at the South Court Auditorium at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on Nov. 23, 2021,
(Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Psaki’s comments come as the European Union and a Russian envoy meet with Iranian negotiators in Vienna in an attempt to repair the shattered 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

Biden made it a top priority for his administration to bring Iran back to the negotiating table and re-enter the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which fell apart after the U.S. withdrew from the agreement in 2018.

Iran has refused to engage in direct talks with the United States and negotiations have only been further stonewalled since the election of anti-Western President Ebrahim Raisi in June. 

Iran has called for all sanctions imposed under the Trump administration to be lifted. But Western officials have reported that Tehran has backtracked on agreements made in previous negotiations, Reuters reported Thursday. 

State Department spokesperson Ned Price said the “runway” for diplomatic negotiations is “very short.”

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“There is not much time left,” he told reporters Thursday. Adding the U.S. will stop seeking a path toward mutual JCPOA compliance if Iran does not take negotiations seriously “in the very near future.”

“If the Iranian regime suspects the United States of weakness they will be sorely surprised,” Price warned.  



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