Vice President Joe Biden and a team of senior White House officials on Monday attempted to placate the American Jewish community’s concerns about the recent Iranian nuclear deal during an hour-long conference call with leaders and rabbis, according to an audio recording obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.
Biden spent nearly an hour trying to convince top Jewish leaders to support the nuclear accord and promised them that if Iran ever violates the deal, the United States is still prepared to carry out a military strike against the Islamic Republic’s nuclear sites.
Recent Stories in National Security
However, Biden also conceded that the United States needed to sign off on Iran’s inherent right to operate a "peaceful" nuclear program in order to finalize the deal.
This means that in the next decade or so, Iran will be permitted to become a nuclear power with the right to enrich uranium, the key component in a weapon.
Under no circumstances, Biden said, could the Obama administration have secured a deal that fully shuts down Iran’s nuclear infrastructure and prevents it from ever having the ability to domestically enrich uranium.
"The part of the agreement that a lot of people don’t understand, and it’s totally understandable they don’t, is that all other nations have a right to have peaceful nuclear power, to turn the lights on," Biden said during the hour-long call, which was organized by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, a community umbrella organization that includes a range of leading Jewish groups.
"If they meet all of the requirements over the next 12 to 15 years that they have to meet in this agreement, they’re going to be able to, they will have proven to the world the theory goes, they are a responsible nation and are going to be able to have nuclear reactors that are civil nuclear reactors that can turn the lights on," Biden said.
Iran is permitted to keep both its older and newer model uranium-enriching centrifuges.
"The reason they keep [centrifuges] is theoretically when they meet these requirements they would take them out of storage and be able to use them," Biden said.
Under the terms of the agreement, "after a long period of time, they can prove they’re responsible so they would be allowed to produce their own low enriched uranium," Biden said. "That is part of this agreement."
U.S. negotiators did not insist on forcing Iran to destroy its centrifuges and nuclear infrastructure because "if they meet these stringent requirement" outlined in the accord, "they can some day have their own civil nuclear program for which they can provide the low enriched uranium fuel to make it work."
Biden also said that within about eight years, Iran will be able both to purchase and to sell arms on the open market.
"Someone would say on this call, ‘Doesn’t it mean they could sell bazookas to Bangladesh or they could sell weapons to Venezuela?’ Yeah. They could under international law but we have sanctions against them doing that," Biden said.
The vice president went on to take a tough stance on Iran’s arming and funding of rebels in Yemen and its support for terror groups such as Hezbollah. The United States, Biden said, will not hesitate to use force against Iranian weapons shipments in the Persian Gulf.
If U.S. naval forces in the Gulf of Aden near Yemen detect that Iranian ships are trying to smuggle weapons, "We’re going to board you and inspect the ship," he said. "If they do not agree to that, then we can use force to turn them around under international law."
That ability "remains. Period," Biden promised. "Five years from now. Ten years from now. Twenty years from now."
"The president of the United States has not taken military force off the table," Biden continued. "If they violate and go forward, the same options we have now remain on the table to be able to go and take out the physical facility and if need be go to war."
Biden went on to admit to Jewish leaders that he was very skeptical of the negotiations and that he pressured President Obama to take a tough stance.
"This is no reason for you to support this deal, but I start by saying I would not even if the president wanted to move forward, I would not support this deal if I did not believe it was in the overwhelming interest of the United States of America and Israel, as well as world peace," Biden said at the top of the call.
"I was the bad guy in these ongoing negotiations because I was skeptical," he later admitted. "So as that old expression goes, I was the skunk at the family picnic."
Biden also emphasized that the deal will impose a vigorous inspections regime on Iran’s nuclear and military sites. However, he failed to disclose to those on the call that under the parameters of the deal, no Americans are permitted to be part of the team carrying out inspections.
"There is no way they can somehow block the ability in the future of the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] inspectors inspecting a covert site, a military base, anything we think is going on that is contrary" to the deal, Biden claimed.
Biden’s claim contradicts multiple statements by senior Iranian officials stating that no one will be permitted to inspect Iran’s military sites.