“The only thing worse than the Iran that exists now is an Iran with nuclear weapons, and if we can return to the deal, we can hold them tight,” Mr. Biden told Yonit Levi of Channel 12. “I think it was a gigantic mistake for the last president to get out of the deal. They’re closer to a nuclear weapon now than they were before.”

President Biden sought to calm Israeli fears of a potential nuclear deal with Iran as he began a Middle East tour on Wednesday, promising not to give in to a key demand by Tehran and assuring Israelis that he would use force if needed to stop Iran from developing a bomb, reports The New York Times.

In an interview taped at the White House on Tuesday and aired on Israeli television on Wednesday night shortly after his arrival, Mr. Biden argued that Israel was made more vulnerable in 2018 when President Donald J. Trump withdrew from a nuclear agreement reached under the Obama administration.

It will be safer, he said, with a renewed accord.

“The only thing worse than the Iran that exists now is an Iran with nuclear weapons, and if we can return to the deal, we can hold them tight,” Mr. Biden told Yonit Levi of Channel 12. “I think it was a gigantic mistake for the last president to get out of the deal. They’re closer to a nuclear weapon now than they were before.”

Mr. Biden arrived in Israel on Wednesday to open a four-day Middle East visit that will focus not just on trying to slow down Iran’s nuclear program but also on getting oil to the gas pumps of frustrated Americans and on improving relations with Saudi Arabia.

Nearly 50 years after making his first trip to Israel as a newly elected senator, Mr. Biden returned for the first time as president and wasted no time seeking to reaffirm his steadfast support for the Jewish state despite friction over his efforts to negotiate a new nuclear agreement.

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