Iran informed the International Atomic Energy Agency this week that it would suspend voluntary implementation next week of a provision in the 2015 deal that allowed United Nations nuclear monitors to conduct inspections of undeclared sites in Iran at short notice unless the USA rolled back sanctions by February 23.
In his first major foreign policy speech as US president, Biden cast China as its "most serious competitor", pledging to confront what he called "China's economic abuses", "aggressive, coercive action" and "attack on human rights".
"We can no longer delay or do the bare minimum to address climate change", Biden said, just hours after the United States formally rejoined the Paris accord on global warming.
"When I last spoke in Munich, I was a private citizen, I was a professor, not an elected official", Biden told the conference chairman, Wolfgang Ischinger, who was veritably glowing as he emceed a panel that included the American president, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron.
Where Trump called the European Union a foe, Biden held it up as a close partner. "They're not transactional. They're not extractive", Biden said in clear reference to Trump's emphasis on redefining allies as economic rivals. Biden also halted plans to remove 12,000 troops from Germany, which Trump had proposed in part to punish the country for not spending enough on its military.
In advance of Biden's virtual appearances at a G-7 meeting and the Munich Security Conference, the White House sought to underscore that the new administration will move quickly to reorient the USA away from Donald Trump's "America First" mantra by announcing major reversals of Trump administration policies.
"In too many places, including in Europe and the United States, democratic progress is under assault", Biden said. That is our galvanising mission. "Democracy doesn't happen by accident". We have to defend it. We have to prove that our model isn't a relic of our history. "It's the single best way to revitalize the promise of our future".
"Drawing on our strengths and values as democratic, open economies and societies, we will work together and with others to make 2021 a turning point for multilateralism and to shape a recovery that promotes the health and prosperity of our people and planet", they said in a joint statement after the virtual summit.
Biden's turn on the world stage comes as the US on Friday officially rejoins the Paris climate agreement, the largest worldwide effort to curb global warming. Trump announced in June 2017 that he was withdrawing from the pact, contending that it hurt the USA economy.
The re-entry of the United States means that the Paris accord again includes virtually every country after Trump made the U.S. the sole outlier. In his remarks, Biden stopped short of articulating a timeframe or specific preconditions for resuming talks with Tehran.
But Biden delivered harsh warnings about the threats he said are posed by Russian Federation and China.
Also Thursday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the foreign ministers of Britain, Germany and France urged Iran to allow continued United Nations nuclear inspections and stop nuclear activities that have no credible civilian use. In his first major foreign policy speech as US President, Biden cast China as its most serious competitor, pledging to confront what he called China's economic abuses, aggressive coercive action, and attack on human rights. He argued that Trump had ceded that role to other nations during his four years in office. President Vladimir Putin "seeks to weaken the European project and our North Atlantic Treaty Organisation alliance". Addressing Russian "recklessness" with regard to cyberattacks and other malfeasance "has become critical to protecting our collective security".