Biden heads to Middle East to pitch Iran Nuclear Deal to uneasy Israel, Saudi Arabia
President Joe Biden is looking to score a much-needed win in his visit to the Middle East this week as his presidency has been tattered domestically with recent losses before the Supreme Court, inflation, recession fears and a rock-bottom approval rating. Globally, the president is facing an energy crisis and the Russia-Ukraine war.
He may have a golden opportunity: The Iran Nuclear Deal.
Biden gets a chance to revive the deal, but he first has to convince uneasy Israeli and Saudi Arabian officials that it will be effective in preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear power.
President Joe Biden speaks at the Congressional Picnic on the South Lawn of the White House, Tuesday, July 12, 2022, in Washington.
(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Biden will start his trip on Wednesday when he lands in Israel, beginning a three-day visit to the country. Discussions about the Iran nuclear deal are expected to be at the centerfold of meetings he has with Israeli officials.
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During his stay in Israel, Biden is expected to learn more about the country’s new “Iron Beam” missile defense system. He will also visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial and will receive Israel’s Presidential Medal of Honor.
The president is also expected to join Israeli leaders in issuing a “Jerusalem Declaration” that will condemn Iran’s nuclear program and its ambitions to weaponize nuclear power.
The declaration will say the U.S. and Israel will use “all elements of their national power against the Iranian nuclear threat,” according to an Israeli official.
President Joe Biden boards Air Force One for a trip to Israel and Saudi Arabia, Tuesday, July 12, 2022, at Andrews Air Force Base, Md.
(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
The trip comes on the heels of Biden administration negotiators failing to score any concessions from Iran during a meeting in Qatar last month.
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On Friday, Biden will travel to Saudi Arabia, first landing in the port city of Jeddah to meet with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Saudi Arabia has remained frustrated that Biden clings to the hope of a revived Iran deal and the U.S.-Saudi relationship has become strained since Biden said he would make the country a “pariah” due to their human rights violations.
Biden’s relationship with Mohammed bin Salman is particularly strained as the president blamed him for the 2018 killing of U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, second to the left, speaks during a meeting on Sunday, June 30, 2019.
(Kim Kyung-Hoon/Pool via Bloomberg)
While in Jeddah, Biden is expected to announce his administration’s vision for the Middle East, the White House said.
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In 2015, when Biden was vice president of the United States, he oversaw the adoption of the Iran nuclear deal brokered by President Barack Obama. At the time, Middle Eastern countries set aside differences to score what many experts called a historic agreement.
However, just three years later, then-President Donald Trump scrapped the agreement that he and critics said did not go far enough in deterring Iran from securing nuclear weapons.
The nuclear deal included Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and the European Union.
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Biden will be the first U.S. president to travel directly from Israel to Saudi Arabia as the two traditionally hostile countries have found common ground in their enmity toward Iran.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.