WASHINGTON – US Vice President Joe Biden told America's biggest pro-Israel lobbying organization on Monday that President Barack Obama was "not bluffilrng" about the United States' determination to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.
"The president of the United States cannot and does not bluff. President Barack Obama is not bluffing," he told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in a speech to its annual policy conference.
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"Big nations cannot bluff," he added. "Presidents cannot bluff and President Obama is not bluffing. We're not looking for war, we're ready to negotiate. We prefer a diplomatic solution."
Biden added the though the United States was "not looking for war" and wanted peaceful negotiations with Iran, the "window is closing" for talks, and the US was determined "to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. Period. Not contain – prevent.
"God forbid the need to act occurs, it's critically important for the world to know we did everything in our power, everything reasonably expected, to stop it first.
"Stopping Iran from getting nuclear weapons – it is not only a threat to Israel but to the world. It threatens the US and its allies, it will trigger an arms race and it will make the world a much less stable place. They are using proxies for terror, putting Israelis and American and others in danger."
The US vice president began his speech by acknowledging Defense Minister Ehud Barak , saying "This is a stand up guy, standing up for his country, defending his country and continuing to defend the values we all share. I'm a fan of the man."
Biden at AIPAC (Photo: AP)
He expressed his country's commitment to Israel: "US President Barack Obama shares my commitment; we both know Israel faces new threats and uncertainties... The Arab Spring has required both Israel and the US to reassess the situation.
Elaborating on US-Israel ties, he added: "We have very close ties… there are many meetings between our intelligence agencies and military… We've held the most regular and largest military exercises and we have invested $257 million in Iron Dome. I used to have to describe it to people, what it does. But I don’t have to explain why it's important anymore. Everybody knows. Everybody gets it now."
Biden addressed the dangers of the "seemingly coordinated effort to delegitimize Israel as a Jewish state," adding that Israel has the "right to defend itself.
"To put it bluntly: There is only one nation in the world that has consistently confronted the efforts to delegitimize Israel. We have stood up for the legitimacy of the State of Israel. President Obama, wherever he goes he says… that while we would like better relations with muslin countries the alliance with Israel is not a matter for debate. Don’t raise it with us. It's non negotiable."
The US has "deep commitment to the security of the State of Israel," Biden insisted, "That has not changed and it will not change, as long as Obama and I are president and vice president. It's in our very naked self-interest, beyond the moral imperative.
"We may not have always agreed on tactics, but ladies and gentlemen, we've never disagreed on the strategic imperative that Israel must be able to defend itself, by itself, and that is why we need to make sure Israel maintains its advantage."
"I can assure you unequivocally: No president has done as much to physically
secure the State of Israel as President Barack Obama," he added
'Arab world needs to get in the game'
He also stressed his support of Israel by saying: "The preservation of an independent Jewish state is the only guarantor for the freedom of the Jewish people around the world – It is the only guarantor of 'never again.'
"Our job is to make sure that there is always a place to go that there is always a secure Israel. A secure Israel within its border is in the US' strategic interest… and it's critical to remind our children that this is a never ending requirement."
Nevertheless, the US VP said that Israel must work to promote peace, noting that "There is no shortcut to peace, to face to face negotiations. Israel's own leaders understand the imperativeness of peace. They all call for the two-state solution – a secure Israel alongside a Palestinian state. But it takes two to tango and the rest of the Arab world needs to get in the game.
"There are no illusions. It's going to require serious steps from both sides… but we make no apologies for continuing to pursue that goal and continuing to pursue a better future."
Biden then urged the international community to name Hezbollah a terror organization: "Hezbollah is a terror organization, period. And we are urging every nation in the world to start treating Hezbollah as such and naming them a terror organization. We'll do our part to stop them and we urge our friends in Europe to declare them a terror organization."
Reuters contributed to this report
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