Biden says U.S. suffering from Trump decision on Iran deal pullout

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President Biden said Sunday that the U.S. is “continuing to suffer” from former President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal.

Mr. Biden’s comments come a day after he and three European leaders signaled that he was ready to return to the Obama-era deal that eased sanctions against Iran, in exchange for the country limiting its nuclear program and allowing inspections.

“We’re continuing to suffer from the very bad judgments that President Trump made in pulling out of the [nuclear deal],” Mr. Biden said during a press conference at the end of the Group of 20 summit in Rome.

He said the future of the deal is dependent on whether the original partners in the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA),  will “stick with us and make sure there is a price to pay economically” if Iran doesn’t return to the negotiating table.

Mr. Biden also vowed to “continue to respond” if Iran launches drone strikes or provokes the U.S. in any way.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that Iran’s nuclear program is “starting to be a problem” and that the U.S. and its allies have limited time to strike a deal with Tehran before it stockpiles enough material for a nuclear bomb.

The nuclear deal was brokered in 2015 among the U.S., Germany, France, United Kingdom, China, Russia, and Iran. But Mr. Trump pulled the U.S. out of the deal three years later, imposing tough sanctions that have damaged Iran’s economy.

In response, Iran bolstered its nuclear program, pushing it past previously agreed to limits under the Obama-era deal.

On Saturday, the U.S., Germany, UK and France issued a statement that made it clear they wouldn’t ease sanctions until Iran scales back its plans to develop a nuclear weapon.

Iran has repeatedly denied that it wants a nuclear weapon.

“We are convinced that it is possible to quickly reach and implement an understanding on returning to full compliance and to ensure for the long term that Iran‘s nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes,” the statement said.

“This will only be possible if Iran changes course,” it added. “We call upon [Iranian President Ebrahim] Raisi to seize this opportunity and return to a good faith effort to conclude our negotiations as a matter of urgency. That is the only sure way to avoid a dangerous escalation, which is not in any country’s interest.”

The allies said they have a “grave and growing concern” that Iran has stepped up its pace of producing “highly enriched uranium and enriched uranium metal,” which have no civilian uses.

Tehran has yet to commit to a date to return to nuclear talks, which have been suspended since June, when Iranian President Ebrahim Raise came to power.

Mr. Biden has repeatedly expressed his belief that the U.S. could return the deal, despite increased tensions between the two nations. 

An Iran equipped with nuclear bombs would be a national security and foreign policy nightmare for the U.S. and its longstanding regional ally Israel. Such a development also would reshape the balance of power in the Middle East and immediately make Iran the region’s most influential player.

• Ben Wolfgang and Dave Boyer contributed to this report.

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