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U.S. and Israel pledge to deny Iran nuclear weaponry


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U.S. and Israel pledge to deny Iran nuclear weaponry
U.S. president Joe Biden and Israel prime minister Yair Lapid attend the first virtual meeting of the “I2U2” group with leaders of India and the United Arab Emirates on Thursday in Jerusalem - Reuters

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Jerusalem – United States president Joe Biden and Israel prime minister Yair Lapid signed a joint pledge on Thursday to deny Iran nuclear arms, a show of unity by allies long divided over diplomacy with Tehran.

The undertaking, part of a “Jerusalem Declaration” crowning Biden’s first visit to Israel as president, came a day after he told a local TV station that he was open to “last resort” use of force against Iran – an apparent move toward accommodating Israel’s calls for a “credible military threat” by world powers.

“We will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon,” Biden told a news conference following the signing of the declaration.

Washington and Israel have separately made veiled statements about possible pre-emptive war with Iran – which denies seeking nuclear arms – for years. Whether they have the capabilities or will to deliver on this has been subject to debate, however.

Thursday’s statement reaffirmed American support for Israel’s regional military edge and ability “to defend itself by itself”.

“The United States stresses that integral to this pledge is the commitment never to allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon, and that it is prepared to use all elements of its national power to ensure that outcome,” the statement added.

Lapid cast this posture as a way of averting open conflict.

“The only way to stop a nuclear Iran is if Iran knows the free world will use force,” he said after the signing ceremony.

Speaking alongside him, Biden described preventing a nuclear Iran as “a vital security interest for Israel and the United States and, I would add, for the rest of the world as well”.

There was no immediate comment from Tehran.

In 2015, Iran signed an international deal capping its nuclear projects with bomb-making potential. In 2018, then-U.S. president Donald Trump quit the pact, deeming it insufficient, a withdrawal welcomed by Israel.

Iran has since ramped up some nuclear activities, putting a ticking clock on world powers’ bid to return to a deal in Vienna talks. Israel now says it would support a new deal with tougher provisions. Iran has balked at submitting to further curbs.

Biden has pushed for a return to talks, but he said it was up to Iran to respond.

(Reuters)