US would use force against Iran ‘as a last resort' - President Biden

“The only thing worse than Iran now is Iran with nuclear weapons,” US President Joe Biden said in an interview with Israeli media.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz and US President Joe Biden attend a briefing on the Israel's Iron Dome and Iron Beam Air Defense Systems at the Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod, near Tel Aviv, Israel, July 13, 2022 (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/POOL)
Defense Minister Benny Gantz and US President Joe Biden attend a briefing on the Israel's Iron Dome and Iron Beam Air Defense Systems at the Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod, near Tel Aviv, Israel, July 13, 2022
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/POOL)

The US would use force “as a last resort” to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, US President Joe Biden said in an interview with Channel 12 that aired soon after he arrived in Israel on Wednesday.

“The only thing worse than Iran now is Iran with nuclear weapons,” Biden said, explaining why the US continues to support the revival of the 2015 Iran deal. “I think it was a giant mistake for the previous president to get out of the deal. They are closer to a nuclear weapon than ever before.”

“We can act against [the Quds Force] and still have a deal that can curtail the nuclear program,” he said. “I still think it makes sense.”

"We can act against [the Quds Force] and still have a deal that can curtail the nuclear program"

US President Joe Biden

Asked if use of force against Iran was on the table, Biden responded: “As a last resort, yes.”

 US President Joe Biden speaks to IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi as Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz, caretaker Prime Minister Yair Lapid, and US Defence Attache in Israel, Brigadier General Shawn A. Harris look on, during a tour of Israel's defense system at Ben Gurion Airport (credit: GIL COHEN-MAGEN/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES) US President Joe Biden speaks to IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi as Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz, caretaker Prime Minister Yair Lapid, and US Defence Attache in Israel, Brigadier General Shawn A. Harris look on, during a tour of Israel's defense system at Ben Gurion Airport (credit: GIL COHEN-MAGEN/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES)

When interviewer Yonit Levy pressed Biden for details, he said: “I’m not going to speculate on that, but Iran can’t get a nuclear weapon.”

Biden also said he would keep the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on the State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations even if it means Iran will not rejoin the agreement.

Saudi-Israel normalization “going to take a long time”

Regarding his next stop in Saudi Arabia, Biden said he was going to promote stability in the Middle East.

“It’s an overwhelming interest of the US to have stability in the region,” Biden said. “Those that thought that the US was going to leave behind the Middle East and leave a vacuum that either China or Russia would fill – we can’t let that happen.”

Saudi-Israel normalization “is going to take a long time, but increasing the relationship in terms of acceptance of each other’s presence and working on certain things makes sense to me,” he said.

“The more Israel is integrated in the region as equal and accepted, the more likely… it can come to an accommodation with the Palestinians down the road,” Biden said.

Asked about Democrats who voted against funding for the Iron Dome and seek to curtail aid to Israel, he said: “There are a few of them.”

“I think they’re wrong,” he added. “I think they’re making a mistake. Israel is a democracy; Israel is our ally; Israel is our friend. I make no apology... It is overwhelmingly in our interest that Israel be stable.”

Asked if there is a danger that the Democratic Party will turn its back on Israel, Biden said no, nor would the Republican Party.

As for visiting Israel during an election period, Biden said he was “committed to the state, not an individual leader.”

Tzvi Joffre contributed to this report.