Biden says nuclear talks restarting with Iran, after meeting with allies


President Biden said Saturday that talks with Iran will resume in an effort to re-establish the Obama-era nuclear accord, as he and U.S. allies warned that Tehran has “accelerated the pace of provocative nuclear steps.”

“They’re scheduled to resume,” Mr. Biden said in the first apparent public confirmation by the U.S. of a resumption in negotiations.

Mr. Biden issued a joint statement with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the Group of 20 summit in Rome expressing “our determination to ensure that Iran can never develop or acquire a nuclear weapon.”

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.

Iran has halted negotiations on a return to the nuclear agreement, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Tehran has yet to commit to a date to return to nuclear talks in Vienna, which have been suspended since June, when Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi came to power.

Former President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the accord, arguing that it didn’t prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. And former Vice President Mike Pence said in an address on Thursday that the Biden administration’s decision to try to resurrect the nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, is a mistake.

“With our current administration’s embrace with the JCPOA, their hesitation to condemn rockets being fired at our cherished ally Israel, the heartbreaking and disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, our adversaries may be sensing weakness in the current American administration,” Mr. Pence said. “They may be emboldened to test our resolve. And in fact, they’ve already begun to do so with reports of an Iranian drone attack on a U.S. base in Syria.”

“Weakness arouses evil,” Mr. Pence said.

The Biden administration imposed new sanctions on Friday on two entities and four individuals connected to drone attacks by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, including against U.S. forces.

The U.N.’s nuclear watchdog has said Iran is increasingly in violation of the nuclear deal. Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and the European Union remain part of the agreement.

“We welcome President Biden’s clearly demonstrated commitment to return the U.S. to full compliance with the JCPOA and to stay in full compliance, so long as Iran does the same,” said the statement by Mr. Biden and the other leaders.

The western allies also warned that Iran’s nuclear developments and restrictions on international monitoring by the International Atomic Energy Agency “will jeopardize the possibility of a return to” the deal.

“We call upon President Raisi to seize this opportunity and return to a good faith effort to conclude our negotiations as a matter of urgency,” the leaders said in their communique. “That is the only sure way to avoid a dangerous escalation, which is not in any country’s interest.”

— This article is based in part on wire-service reports.

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