- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 20, 2019

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden said Thursday President Trump’s decision to abandon diplomacy with Iran has heightened tensions in the Middle East and increased the chances of military conflict in the region.

Responding to the news that Iran shot down a U.S. military drone, Mr. Biden, a 2020 presidential candidate, said Mr. Trump’s “Iran strategy is a self-inflicted disaster.”

Mr. Biden said the Trump administration has put Iran back on the path toward obtaining nuclear weapons and made it harder to secure key international shipping routes through the Strait of Hormuz.

“He unilaterally withdrew from the hard-won nuclear agreement that the Obama-Biden administration negotiated to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon,” he said. “Trump promised that abandoning the deal and imposing sanctions would stop Iran’s aggression in the region. But they’ve only gotten more aggressive.”

Trump also promised that walking away would somehow lead to a better deal — instead, the predictable has happened: Iran is building back up its nuclear capability,” Mr. Biden said. “It’s sadly ironic that the State Department is now calling on Iran to abide by the very deal the Trump administration abandoned.”

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard said the aircraft was shot down after it crossed into Iranian airspace. U.S. Central Command denied the claim, saying the American RQ-4A Global Hawk drone was shot down in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz.

Mr. Biden, a former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is making the case in the Democratic presidential race that his experience in global affairs gives him an edge over his rivals.

In his statement Thursday, Mr. Biden said the fact that Iran remains a “bad actor” when it comes to human rights and funding terrorist groups in the region demands the White House adopt a more strategic vision.

“By walking away from diplomacy, Trump has made military conflict more likely,” Mr. Biden said. “Another war in the Middle East is the last thing we need.”

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