U.S. President Joe Biden said in an interview aired Wednesday that he would be willing to go to war with Iran to prevent the country from obtaining a nuclear weapon, a position that drew condemnation from advocacy groups and foreign policy analysts who questioned the moral, strategic, and legal bases for such a stance.
Biden also reiterated in the sit-down interview with Israeli broadcaster N12 that he is committed to keeping the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on the U.S. State Department’s Foreign Terrorist Organizations list, even if it means sinking the prospects of a deal to revive the nuclear accord that former President Donald Trump violated in 2018.
While acknowledging that Trump’s decision to abandon the seven-country deal was a “gigantic mistake,” Biden said he would not delist the IRGC to advance nuclear talks that have hit a wall in recent weeks.
Biden offered a one-word answer — “yes” — when asked whether he would keep the IRGC on the terror list “even if that means that kills the deal.”
The U.S. president went on to say that he’s prepared to use military force “as a last resort” to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Iran has repeatedly said it is not pursuing a nuclear weapon and that its nuclear energy program is designed for peaceful domestic purposes.
Watch Biden’s comments:
EXCLUSIVE @POTUS interview with @N12News: committed to keeping IRGC on the foreign terrorist organizations list even if it kills the deal; willing to use force “as last resort” pic.twitter.com/jWjLO0SVQz
— Yonit Levi (@LeviYonit) July 13, 2022
Peace organizations were outraged by the president’s interview, noting that the terror designation is largely symbolic while the nuclear deal was a substantive diplomatic achievement that lifted devastating economic sanctions in exchange for limits to Iran’s nuclear program.
“Let’s be clear: Congress has not authorized — and the American people overwhelmingly do not support — the use of force against Iran,” said the Friends Committee on National Legislation. “If the president is committed to preventing nuclear proliferation, he should return to the nuclear deal and prioritize diplomacy. War is not the answer.”
Matt Duss, foreign policy adviser to U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), responded that “it makes absolutely zero sense that he won’t delist the IRGC to prevent an Iranian nuke but would launch a war to prevent an Iranian nuke.”
The president’s remarks came days after his administration announced new sanctions targeting Iranian firms and individuals, a move seen as further evidence that Biden remains wedded to the failed “maximum pressure” campaign that his predecessor launched, imperiling any remaining hopes of a breakthrough in the stalled nuclear talks.
“Astonishing to see the president say he is willing to throw away the diplomatic progress his team has made and invite war with Iran over pointless partisan symbolism,” said progressive advocacy group Win Without War.
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