The White House on Thursday pushed back on criticism over Russia, which has invaded Ukraine, being among the countries mediating talks to reach a renewed nuclear deal with Iran.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said including Russia in the negotiations was in the national security interest of the U.S.
“It’s not in our interest for Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon, and Russia is a member of P5+1,” she said of the group of nations involved. “So that pursuit of a deal would be in our national security interest.”
She said, “If we can achieve a diplomatic solution that would prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, despite efforts by former President Trump to pull us out of the deal…..would be good for our national security and good for global security around the world.”
Republicans and others have criticized having Moscow’s involvement in the talks, especially after President Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken labeled Russian President Vladimir Putin a “war criminal” for his attack on Ukraine.
China, Russia, and European parties are mediating the talks to revive the 2015 deal, which put limits on Iran’s nuclear program to prevent the country from acquiring a nuclear weapon. They are all members of P5+1, which refers to the six world powers that joined together to reach the agreement.
Mr. Trump pulled the U.S. out of the deal in 2018.
Negotiators and the White House have signaled recently they are on the cusp of a revived deal after nearly a year of on-and-off talks in Vienna. Only a small number of issues remain unresolved, U.S. officials have said.