Activist who appeared in Biden 'Iran deal is dead' video calls for tough action on Tehran

Clearest words yet from US President on attempts to revive 2015 nuclear agreement

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The nuclear deal with Iran is “dead” but the US will not formally announce this, President Joe Biden has said in video footage posted online.

In the clip, published on Tuesday, activist Sudi Farokhnia shakes Mr Biden's hand and asks him to “please announce that the JCPOA is dead”.

Mr Biden responds that he is unable to do so, for “a lot of reasons”.

He then says: “It is dead, but we are not going to announce it. Long story.”

Ms Farokhnia goes on to say: “We just don't want any deals with the mullahs … they don't represent us.”

Negotiations began last year to revive the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — under which Tehran had agreed to limit its nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions being eased

At one point early this year Iran and Washington appeared extremely close to a deal.

The clip was shot on November 4, at a campaign event for Congressman Mike Levin in San Diego.

Ms Farokhnia, who works with Iranian-American Democrats of California, a pro-democracy group, said she has been in possession of the video since it was filmed.

Iranian-American Democrats of California decided to release the footage amid continuing protests in Iran following the death in custody of Iranian Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini.

She died on September 16, three days after being detained by the morality police in Tehran for wearing her hijab “improperly”.

Earlier this month, the Human Rights Activists' News Agency — a non-government organisation promoting human rights in Iran — said more than 480 protesters have been killed by security forces and more than 18,000 detained. A number of those detained have been executed.

Ms Farokhnia told The National she was “glad” Mr Biden had been quick to acknowledge the uprising in Iran in a speech at the UN in September, but said “that far more needed to be done by the US to end theocratic rule in Tehran”.

She called on the US to expand sanctions on law enforcement and security forces, including commanders of the Basij paramilitary force and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and political and judicial players “supportive of the crackdowns at the regional and national level”.

Ms Farokhnia said the US must “freeze and seize US based assets of these individuals — creating a funding source to provide relief to victims of human right violations in Iran and their families”.

The administration of Donald Trump withdrew the US from the JCPOA in 2018 and imposed tough sanctions against Iran. Tehran then stopped adhering to agreed limits — raising fears that it is trying to produce a nuclear weapon.

US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said: “There is no progress happening with respect to the Iran deal now, we don't anticipate any progress any time in the near future, that's just not our focus.”

The Biden administration has said that a return to the JCPOA is looking less and less likely, as Tehran continues to develop its nuclear programme, funds groups in the Middle East and keeps up its brutal crackdown on protesters.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell warned in September that the parties were actually “diverging.”

“We simply don't see a deal coming together anytime soon, while Iran continues to kill its own citizens and is selling UAVs to Russia,” he said.

Updated: December 21, 2022, 5:03 PM
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