The Biden administration “stands by Israel to make sure Iran never obtains a nuclear weapon,” US Ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides said on Monday.
Addressing a press conference in Israel welcoming a visiting bipartisan delegation of US senators and House members, Nides spoke at length about the White House’s position on Iran.
The delegation from Washington was led by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and a bipartisan group of lawmakers, including Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), and Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-TX).
Nides noted that the members of Congress held a series of meetings with Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Yair Lapid. They each had a specific topic they intended to discuss, but the Iranian threat was the most important issue talked about.
“President Biden [spoke last week] with Prime Minister Lapid, repeated the message that we stand by Israel to make sure Iran never obtains a nuclear weapon. That is also in our national security interests and we've repeated that over and over again,” Nides said.
“As he said in the call with the prime minister… we understand the aggression of Iran and we will never tie Israel's hands. Yes, we also would like a diplomatic solution to this but only under the conditions the president has laid out with our European colleagues.”
Nides stressed that Biden has been steadfast that he will not agree to a deal without “many gaps and conditions” that have to be reached which have “still not been resolved.”
“Joe Biden has shown his he sticks to his principles, [and he] supports the State of Israel and the security of the State of Israel and that is what we refer to as iron clad,” Nides said.
When asked if the administration would give in to Iran’s demand to stop any previous investigations by the IAEA, Nides said: “We've said over and over again, the IAEA is not connected to this negotiation. They’ll be dealt with separately. We’ll let the IAEA make those decisions independently. It continues to be the position of this administration.”
Responding to a question asking if he can promise Israel that the US won’t surprise it and suddenly sign a deal with Iran without giving any updates or warning ahead of time, Nides responded that President Biden was a “man of his word” and that the administration supported the security of the State of Israel “full stop.”
“Our position is very clear. We support the security of the State of Israel. Joe Biden has been very clear about his position from the get-go,” Nides said.
He referred to Biden’s position on the FTO (foreign terrorist organizations) list as an example, explaining that the president was “clear” from the beginning that he was not going to remove Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from the designation.
“Joe Biden is a man of his word. Ultimately we are supportive of the State of Israel, the security of the State of Israel, full stop,” Nides said. “We are not lost on many Israeli officials’ opposition to the potential of getting into JCPOA. One good thing about this administration, we're in direct contact with Israelis every single day on this topic.”