Vice President Joe Biden has warned that the United States is watching Iran “like a hawk” to ensure compliance with the landmark nuclear deal.
Tehran and six world powers, including the United States, agreed to the deal in July when Iran promised to scale down its nuclear activities in return for the lifting of painful UN and Western sanctions, including on its lifeblood oil exports.
“The incentives are aligned for Iran to uphold its side of the deal. We’re watching Iran like a hawk,” Biden said.
“Under this deal, Iran would never be allowed to pursue nuclear weapons, never, never, never,” he told the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) lobby group.
“If Iran violates the deal, the United States will act,” Biden pledged.
A key provision allows the sanctions to be restored or “snap-back” immediately if Iran is found in breach of the agreement.
Earlier in the day, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused Washington of failing to respect the terms of the deal, in a speech marking Persian New Year.
The United States has lifted sanctions “on paper” under the deal which came into effect in January, “but they are using roundabout paths to prevent the Islamic republic from achieving its targets,” Khamenei said.
Iran has denied wanting nuclear weapons, saying its nuclear activities were exclusively for peaceful purposes such as power generation.
Yet in Israel — where many fear being targeted by Tehran — there are still widespread concerns about security in the wake of the agreement.
On the issue of US military aid for Israel, Biden vowed forthcoming assistance would be “without a doubt the most generous security package in the history of the United States.
“Israel may not get everything it asks for, but it will get everything it needs,” Biden said. “It’s about making sure Israel will always exist, strong and capable, as the ultimate guarantor for the Jewish people around the world.”