President Joe Biden will have to address the issue of a potentially nuclear Iran during his visit to the Middle East, after previous negotiations have all but collapsed, according to an expert.
Biden touched down in Tel Aviv, Israel, Wednesday morning, pledging upon arrival to encourage ties among Israel and its historically hostile Arab neighbors in the Middle East, CNN reported Wednesday. One thing that unites them, which Biden will likely focus on during his brief tour, is the prospect of an Iran inching closer to nuclear weaponization, Dr. Gregory Gause, a professor at Texas A&M and prominent Middle East scholar, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
“The Biden administration wants to coordinate with the Israelis and other American partners in the region in light of the fact that it looks like we’re going to be heading towards some kind of crisis on the nuclear front,” said Gause. “That, of course, would lead the Israelis to react.”
Iran has stockpiled enough highly-enriched uranium to produce a viable explosive and announced in July that it upgraded production at the Fordow nuclear facility.
“We’ll continue to advance Israel’s integration into the region, expand emerging forums and engagement,” Biden said in a statement upon arriving. “Greater peace, greater stability, greater connection.”
Israel and Saudi Arabia have reportedly enhanced military cooperation to counter missile threats from Iran and its terrorist proxies, including Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen. Biden, who received briefings on Israel’s Iron Dome and new laser-guided missile defense system Wednesday, may also discuss a coordinated air defense system with leaders from other states in the anti-Iran bloc, Politico reported.
“The Biden administration has been pushing for more open cooperation between Israel and the Arab states, building on the Abraham Accords from from the Trump administration,” said Gause.
Saudi Arabia had hoped the U.S. could expand the Iranian nuclear deal to address Iran’s ballistic missile program and its funding of proxies in the region, according to Gause.
“For the Israelis, the nuclear program is the big thing,” he said.
Biden’s short term goal is to persuade Saudi Arabia to increase oil output, and he may work on an arrangement with Saudi Arabia to accelerate production even after a temporary boost by OPEC Plus major oil producing countries expires in September, according to Gause. That could bolster Biden’s domestic standing as soaring energy prices have soured the American public on Biden’s presidency, said Gause.
The United States is unwavering in our commitment to Israel’s security, and regional stability. This includes addressing Iran’s destabilizing behavior in the region, and never allowing Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon. pic.twitter.com/alNUSGFpK6
— Department of State (@StateDept) July 13, 2022
This is Biden’s first trip to the Middle East since taking office in January 2021. When Biden’s visit was announced in June, the White House promised to expand security cooperation with Saudi Arabia after labeling it a “pariah” state in 2019.
The White House did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment. The Department of State referred the DCNF to the White House.
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