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Biden: US willing to use force to keep nukes from Iran

July 13, 2022

The US president will also visit Saudi Arabia, where he will have talks with Saudi officials and attend a summit of Gulf allies. Iran's nuclear program is set to be high on the agenda during his stay in Israel.

US President Joe Biden descends from Air Force One as he lands for a three-day visit at Ben Gurion International Airport
Biden has arrived in Israel as part of his first trip to the Middle East since assuming officeImage: Amir Cohen/REUTERS

US President Joe Biden addressed Iran's nuclear program after landing in Israel on Wednesday, his first visit to the Middle East since he assumed office.

He is expected to make strong statements of US support for Israel as well as reassure Israeli leaders of his determination to stop Iran from building nuclear weapons.

In an interview taped in Washington before he left for the Middle East, Biden told Israel's Channel 12 that he would be willing to use force against Iran as a "last resort."

"The only thing worse than the Iran that exists now is an Iran with nuclear weapons," he said.

Joe Biden kicks off Middle East trip

Iran concerns

After greeting Biden, Yair Lapid, Israel's caretaker prime minister, spoke about a new security framework for the region to ward off Iran's attempts at strengthening its nuclear capabilities.

Lapid said Israel and the US need to "renew a strong coalition" against Iran.

"We will discuss the need to renew a strong global coalition that will stop the Iranian nuclear program," Lapid said, moments after Air Force One touched down.

Reviving the Iran nuclear deal, which was brokered by former President Barack Obama in 2015 and abandoned by his successor Donald Trump three years later, has been a key policy since Biden entered the White House at the beginning of 2021.

The agreement sharply limited Iran's nuclear program, while forcing Tehran to strict international verification in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions.

Opening remarks

On the airport tarmac on Wednesday, Lapid said Biden's "historic visit expresses the unbreakable bond between our countries and the right of the Jewish people to a state of their own."

Biden responded in his speech by saying it was an "honor to visit the independent Jewish state of Israel."

"I'm proud to say that our relationship with the State of Israel is deeper and stronger, in my view, than it's ever been," the US president said.

Biden to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas

Biden will spend two days in Jerusalem for talks with Israeli leaders before meeting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday in the occupied West Bank.

Later on Friday, he will take a direct flight from Israel to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia — a first for a US president — for talks with Saudi officials.

While in Saudi Arabia, Biden will also attend a summit of Gulf allies.

jsi/fb (AP, Reuters)