Biden on Iran: 'Obama is not bluffing'
VP insists U.S. not looking for war
Vice President Joe Biden re-emphasized on Monday the United States' commitment to Israel and forcefully admonished any attempts by Iran to develop nuclear weapons.
"Big nations can't bluff. And presidents of the United States cannot and do not bluff and President Barack Obama is not bluffing," Biden said at a gathering in Washington for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
The vice president insisted "we are not looking for war" but added "all options, including military force, are on the table."
Biden's remarks also seemed to preview President Barack Obama's trip to Israel next week, his first trip to the Jewish state since he became president. Biden, however, wouldn't go into too much detail about Obama's itinerary, saying he "learned that's it's never a good idea to steal the president's thunder."
"It's never a good idea to say what he's going to say the next day," Biden quipped, possibly a veiled reference to his decision to announce support for same-sex marriage last year, shortly before Obama did so.
Biden pledged not to upstage the president, but added Obama plans to address many of the issues associated with the Arab Spring when he travels to the Middle East.
"I am a little jealous that he gets to be the one to say `This year in Jerusalem.' But I am the Vice President. I am not the president," Biden said, drawing laughs. "When I told him that I am not sure he thought I was serious or not but anyway."
Also on Monday, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations nuclear watchdog, announced that Iran was still not cooperating, rendering it difficult for the IAEA to provide "credible assurance" that the country does not possess undeclared nuclear material.
The Islamic Republic still faces sanctions from the United Nations Security Council for violating a U.N. resolution that forbids Iran from enriching uranium. But Iran says since it signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, it should be able to enrich uranium for peaceful energy needs.
Of the shared commitments between the U.S. and Israel, Biden focused on one in particular.
"We have a shared strategic commitment. Let me make clear what that commitment is. It is to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. Period. Period. End of discussion. Period. Prevent not contain. Prevent," he said.
Recalling stories from his childhood, Biden said he learned at the dinner table from his "righteous Christian" father that the nation of Israel deserved its own statehood and sovereignty. Any threats to their survival, he added, would be met with the United States' "deep commitment to the security of the state of Israel."
"That (commitment) has not changed. That will not change as long as I and he are president and vice president of the United States," he said.
"We especially understand that if we make a mistake it's not a threat to our existence," Biden said. "But if Israel makes a mistake, it could be a threat to its very existence."
The main objective, he reiterated, is to obtain peace through diplomatic means. He said the U.S. is in "constant dialogue" and sharing information with Israeli military, intelligence and political establishment.
"If God forbid the need to act occurs, it is critically important for the whole world to know we did everything in our power...to avoid any confrontation," he said. "Because God forbid if we have to act, it is important that the rest of the world is with us."
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