Biden slams Trump on Iran policy, says he hurt US interests

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Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign rally at Sparks High School in Sparks, Nev., on Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. (Jason Bean/The Reno Gazette-Journal via AP)

SPARKS, NV – Former Vice President Joe Biden on Friday blamed President Donald Trump's withdrawal from a nuclear agreement with Iran for the current instability in the Middle East and touted his own foreign policy experience as a key reason he's the Democrat with the best chance to unseat him in November.

Biden said at a rally in the early caucus state of Nevada that everything that has happened in Iran and Iraq in recent weeks was brought on by Trump “walking away” from a nuclear deal in 2018 that enjoyed strong international support.

Mocking one of Trump's favorite political slogans, he said the president's obsession with isolationism has pushed America's allies away.

“ `America first' has made America last,” he told a crowd of more than 600 in a gymnasium in a blue-collar neighborhood of Sparks. “This is a president who doesn't listen to his military, who doesn't listen to his intelligence community."

Biden, who was vice president when President Barack Obama signed the nuclear deal and earlier served as chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, said he warned more than a month ago that Trump would “get us in a war .... and get us in a war in Iran.”

“This president has embraced thugs across the world. He has poked his finger in the eye of our friends and allies,” Biden said. “The next president better be able to figure out how to bring back these alliances and pull us back together."

Trump ordered new retaliatory economic sanctions Friday on Iran, even as his administration faced persistent questions over its drone strike on an Iranian general that helped ignite the latest crisis with the Islamic Republic. The new sanctions were in immediate response to Iran firing of a barrage of missiles at American bases in neighboring Iraq this week after the killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

The larger U.S. goal is to force Iran to negotiate a new agreement on limiting its nuclear program to replace the one signed under Obama that traded curbs on the program for the easing of sanctions.