Israeli PM to Biden on Iran’s Pursuit of Nuclear Weapons: ‘Diplomacy Will Not Stop Them’

( – Israel and the United States share the goal of preventing a nuclear-armed Iran but differ over the best way to achieve that, remarks by President Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid underlined again on Thursday.

“Words will not stop them, Mr. President,” Lapid said during a joint press appearance after talks in Jerusalem. “Diplomacy will not stop them. The only thing that will stop Iran is knowing that if they continue to develop their nuclear program, the free world will use force.”

“The only way to stop them is to put a credible military threat on the table.”

Lapid noted that Biden has frequently said that big nations don’t bluff.

“I completely agree. It should not be a bluff, but the real thing. The Iranian regime must know that if they continue to deceive the world, they will pay a heavy price.”


During his remarks minutes later, Biden countered.

“Today, you and I also discussed America’s commitment to ensuring Iran never obtains a nuclear weapon. This is a vital security interest to both Israel and the United States and, I would add, for the rest of the world as well,” he said.

“I continue to believe that diplomacy is the best way to achieve this outcome.”

Biden added that the U.S. would continue to work with Israel against threats posed by the Iranian regime beyond the nuclear issue, including its ballistic missile program and sponsorship of terrorists in the region.

During a brief press conference after their remarks, Lapid was asked about differences between the two sides over Iran, and said there was no daylight between Israel and the U.S. on the end goal.

“With regards to the question about Iran, we have an open discussion about what is the best way to deal with it,” he said. “But I don’t think there’s a light between us in terms of – these are all means to an end.”

“We cannot allow Iran to become nuclear,” he continued. “Israel asserts the right to act freely on the subject.  But we are, of course, discussing everything with our greatest ally, which is the United States.”

Salvaging the deal

Thursday marks the seventh anniversary of the day the U.S. and five other countries reached an agreement with Iran over regime nuclear activities that had long concerned the international community.

Opponents of a nuclear-armed Iran have essentially two views on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which eased sanctions on the regime in exchange for curbs on its nuclear programs.

Proponents of the deal, a key Obama-Biden administration foreign policy achievement, say it placed Iran’s nuclear program “in a box” and entailed the most intrusive regime of inspections ever negotiated in a nuclear agreement.

Critics saw serious weaknesses, including a failure to guarantee that the regime open all of its suspect military sites to monitoring, and “sunset” provisions that allowed some of the most important curbs placed on Iran’s program to fall away 8.5, 10 and 15 years after the agreement took effect, beginning as early as March 2024 and October 2025.

Israel strongly opposed the agreement, as did some Arab Gulf states, albeit less vocally. President Trump called it the worst deal he had ever seen, and withdrew in 2018, restoring U.S. sanctions against the regime.

Iran subsequently began abandoning its uranium-enrichment and related commitments, in stages, a process that accelerated after the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

Today its “breakout” time – the time that would be needed to produce enough weapons-grade uranium for an atomic bomb – has according to the State Department been reduced to “weeks or potentially even less.”

Biden came to office pledging to salvage the JCPOA, which would require both the U.S. and Iran to return to compliance.

Numerous rounds of indirect talks since April last year aimed at reviving the deal have failed to achieve a resolution, with each side blaming the other for the impasse.

In his remarks to reporters Thursday, Biden said again that the Iranians had the opportunity to accept an agreement on offer by the U.S.

But, he added, “if they don’t, we made it absolutely clear, we will not – let me say it again – we will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon.”

A joint declaration signed by Biden and Lapid included a line stating that the United States was “prepared to use all elements of its national power” to ensure that Iran never acquires a nuclear weapon.

Another election campaign is underway in Israel and Biden’s itinerary on Thursday included a brief meeting with Binyamin Netanyahu in his capacity as leader of the opposition.

As prime minister, Netanyahu famously clashed with the Obama administration over the JCPOA, angering the White House with a controversial 2015 address to Congress opposing the deal.

Netanyahu told reporters after what he described as a “warm, excellent meeting” that he had told Biden “without a credible military option, Iran won’t be stopped. And if Iran isn’t deterred, that military option has to be used.”


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