Iran nuclear bomb paves way for Saudi, Turkey to follow suit, says Biden

Allowing Iran to acquire a nuclear bomb will place great pressure on countries like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt to get nuclear weapons themselves, U.S. president elect Joe Biden told the New York Times on Wednesday.

Biden confirmed his intention to return the United States to the Iran nuclear deal during his time in office and hold follow-up negotiations should Tehran resume strict compliance with the agreement while cautioning against the precedent that could be set by Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear bomb.

“The last goddamn thing we need in that part of the world is a build-up of nuclear capability,” the 78-year-old, who is set to be inaugurated as the 46th president on Jan. 20, said.

U.S. President Donald Trump in May 2018 declared that the United States would withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal and impose the highest level of economic sanctions on the country. 

Trump called the 2015 agreement - which limits the number of centrifuges Iran can deploy in the next 10 years, and the level of enriched uranium it produces to below 3.67 percent for at least 15 years - defective and maintained it would not stop Iran developing a nuclear bomb.

Iran responded to the U.S. withdrawal by publicly exceeding limits set by the agreement, stating it would return to compliance should the United States do the same. 

“In consultation with our allies and partners, we’re going to engage in negotiations and follow-on agreements to tighten and lengthen Iran’s nuclear constraints, as well as address the missile program,” Biden told the NY Times.

He also said Washington always maintained the option to return to sanctions if necessary.

Turkey in June reiterated its opposition to U.S. sanctions on neighbouring Iran, saying the coronavirus pandemic called for greater global cooperation and solidarity.