Vice President Mike Pence pledged that the United States will never permit the Tehran regime to acquire nuclear weapons, calling the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), better known as the Iran deal, a “disaster”.
Pence, a long-time backer of the Jewish state, arrived in Israel aboard Air Force Two Sunday evening, kicking off a three-day visit to Israel – his first since he took office last January.
On Monday, Pence addressed the Knesset, making him the first senior US official in a decade to speak before the Israeli legislature. The last US leader to address the Knesset was President George W. Bush, who spoke at the Knesset in 2008 to mark the 60th anniversary of Israel’s establishment.
During his address, Pence vowed that the US would “never allow” the Tehran regime to possess nuclear weapons – a message meant not only to reassure Israeli leaders, but also Sunni Arab states across the Middle East concerned by President Barack Obama’s efforts to reach out to Iran.
"I have a solemn promise to Israel, to all the Middle East and to the world -- the United States of America will never allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon," Pence said.
In October, President Trump announced that he would not recertify Iranian compliance with the JCPOA, setting in motion a process requiring Congress to either reinstate sanctions on Tehran, or alter the sanctions regime.
At the Knesset, Pence slammed the JCPOA as “a disaster”, and vowed that the US would withdraw from the deal unless it “is fixed”.
"The Iran nuclear deal is a disaster and the United States of America will no longer certify this ill-conceived agreement," Pence said.
"Unless the Iran nuclear deal is fixed President Trump has said the United States will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal immediately."
During his speech, the Vice President also touched on the planned relocation of the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to the capital city of Jerusalem. While he gave no firm date or location for the new embassy, he stated that the move would be completed before the end of 2019.
"In the weeks ahead, our administration will advance its plan to open the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem – and that United States Embassy will open before the end of next year," said Pence.