Friedman: ‘Any rational person would know we can’t return to the JCPOA’

David Friedman, US Ambassador to Israel, is slated to leave office Wednesday as the next administration will begin.

In a final interview before his departure, Friedman said he is concerned about the next administration and the Iran nuclear threat, according to an article by The Jerusalem Post.

“I am worried about one thing in particular: about Iran,” Friedman said.

President-elect Joe Biden’s foreign policy team includes top Iran deal negotiator Wendy Sherman as deputy secretary of state, Anthony Blinken as secretary of state and Jake Sullivan as national security adviser. Former secretary of state John Kerry and ex-national security adviser Susan Rice were also appointed to senior posts. This team was involved in creating the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

“The Iran band is back together again,” Friedman said. “You’d have to not be paying attention not to be concerned about Iran, given [their] prominent positions.”

Moreover, Biden has indicated his desire to return to the Iran deal — which President Donald Trump pulled out of in 2018 — while Israel is warning against the deal.

Last week, Walla News reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is assembling a team to strategize for the first talks with the Biden administration on Iran’s nuclear program.

Also last week, Netanyahu warned against the U.S. rejoining the nuclear agreement, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“If we just go back to the JCPOA, what will happen and may already be happening is that many other countries in the Middle East will rush to arm themselves with nuclear weapons. That is a nightmare and that is folly. It should not happen,” Netanyahu said.

Friedman hopes appointees will realize returning to the Iran deal now will be drastically different than how it was in 2015.

“In 2015, reasonable minds could disagree,” he said. “Someone could give the benefit of the doubt and think the Iran deal was a good idea. The premise was that Iran would self-modulate… Now we know they didn’t. They destroyed Yemen, attacked America in Iraq, attacked Israel from Syria and funded Hezbollah, Israel’s greatest risk on any border.”

Friedman added, “I’m hoping any rational person would know we can’t return to the JCPOA, but the news reports [indicate] trouble.”

Netanyahu thanked Friedman for “fixing the injustices and discrimination that the diplomatic world has subjected Israel to over the years, for establishing Jerusalem as the nation’s capital, and for many more acts that have yet to be told.”

“Over the years, I have met many ambassadors from many countries, including the US, our great ally. I can safely say that there has never been a greater ambassador than David Friedman in strengthening the deep relationship between Israel and the US,” Netanyahu tweeted Monday.