Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHillicon Valley: Biden calls on Facebook to change political speech rules | Dems demand hearings after Georgia election chaos | Microsoft stops selling facial recognition tech to police Trump finalizing executive order calling on police to use ‘force with compassion’ The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden campaign goes on offensive against Facebook MORE on Thursday criticized President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE’s “failing” strategy in the Middle East amid heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran.

“President Trump’s Iran strategy is a self-inflicted disaster. Two of America’s vital interests in the Middle East are preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and securing a stable energy supply through the Strait of Hormuz,” Biden said in a statement. “Trump is failing on both counts.”

The statement comes after the Pentagon confirmed that Iran shot down a U.S. drone in an “unprovoked attack.” U.S. Central Command said the drone was in international waters and denied Iran’s assertion that it was in Iranian airspace.

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“Make no mistake: Iran continues to be a bad actor that abuses human rights and supports terrorist activities throughout the region,” Biden said. “But what we need is presidential leadership that will take strategic action to counter the Iranian threat, restore America’s standing in the world, recognize the value of principled diplomacy, and strengthen our nation and our security by working strategically with our allies.” 

The already tense relationship between Washington and Tehran has further deteriorated in recent days after the Trump administration said Iran was behind attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman last week. The Iranian government has denied any involvement.

The Pentagon also announced this week that it would deploy an additional 1,000 troops to the Middle East to address “air, naval, and ground-based threats” in the region.

Tehran responded by announcing it would surpass the limit for its uranium enrichment that was agreed to in the Obama-era nuclear deal. Trump withdrew the U.S. from the deal last year, but Iran has continued to keep within the agreement’s bounds until now.

“Trump promised that abandoning the deal and imposing sanctions would stop Iran’s aggression in the region. But they’ve only gotten more aggressive,” Biden said. “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.”

Trump this week called the oil tanker attacks “minor,” but said he would “certainly go [to war] over nuclear weapons.”

As Biden outpaces other Democratic presidential candidates in the party’s primary in both polls and fundraising, he has increasingly looked toward the general election, focusing much of his ire on Trump rather than on opponents in his own party.

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

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