By Brooke Singman
Published June 20, 2019
Former Vice President Joe Biden blasted President Trump’s Iran strategy as a “self-inflicted disaster” Thursday, just hours after a U.S. Navy drone was shot down by an Iranian missile over the Strait of Hormuz.
Seeking to put the blame on the Trump administration for the risk of "military conflict," the 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful released a statement taking direct aim at the president's decision to abandon the Obama administration’s nuclear agreement with Iran.
“President Trump’s Iran strategy is a self-inflicted disaster,” Biden said in a statement. “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. Trump is failing on both counts.”
Biden said that Trump’s decision to scrap the Iran nuclear deal has been counterproductive.
“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.”
“By walking away from diplomacy, Trump has made military conflict more likely. Another war in the Middle East is the last thing we need,” he said.
Biden added: “[W]hat 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.”
Biden’s comments came amid rising tensions between the U.S. and Iran.
Early Thursday, U.S. Central Command said in a statement that a U.S. Navy Broad Maritime Surveillance aircraft was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile system while operating in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz on Wednesday evening.
"Iranian reports that the aircraft was over Iran are false," Capt. Bill Urban, a U.S. Central Command spokesman, said in a statement. "This was an unprovoked attack on a U.S. surveillance asset in international airspace."
The drone was not in Iranian airspace, but instead, about 17 miles from Iran at the time, a military source told Fox News.
A commander for Iran's Revolutionary Guard claimed the drone was shot down over Iranian airspace which sends a "clear message" to the U.S., marking the first direct Iranian-claimed attack amid the standoff.
"We do not have any intention for war with any country, but we are fully ready for war," Revolutionary Guard commander Gen. Hossein Salami said in a televised address.
Besides the drone incident, U.S. officials told Fox News that Iranian-backed forces fired cruise missiles Wednesday night into Saudi Arabia, hitting a power plant.
The U.S. said Iran fired a missile at another drone last week following the attack on two oil tankers near the Gulf.
The Trump campaign fired back on Thursday, blasting Biden for attacking the president after the conflict in Iran.
"Iran shoots down an American drone in international airspace, and Joe Biden’s response is to attack President Trump? What is his solution? Send Iran more pallets of cash? Let Iran take more U.S. sailors hostage? More coddling?" the campaign tweeted.
Trump, meanwhile, has promised not to “let Iran have nuclear weapons” while saying he doesn't want conflict.
“I don’t want to fight. But you do have situations like Iran, you can’t let them have nuclear weapons—you just can’t let that happen,” Trump told Fox News host Steve Hilton in a recent interview.
Trump also touted his administration’s move to slap sanctions on Tehran, claiming that the new sanctions and ending the Iran nuclear deal “devastated” Iran’s economy.
Fox News' Lucas Tomlinson, Travis Fedschun and The Associated Press contributed to this report.