Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del.
In an upcoming TV special, Democratic Sen. Joseph Biden declares nuclear technology in the hands of Iran’s “despotic theocracy” is “unacceptable,” but a critic charges the Delaware lawmaker’s engagement policy with Tehran over the last decade makes him partly responsible for the growing threat the U.S. faces from the mullah regime.
Biden tells host Chris Wallace in Fox News Channel’s “Iran: The Nuclear Threat” airing Sunday night, “To have a despotic theocracy in possession of a nuclear weapon, creates a much bigger danger than having a democratically elected government in control of a nuclear weapon. … They’re much more likely to use it or threaten to use it or attempt to use it for blackmail.”
Biden, the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also comments on Iran’s stockpile of missiles, capable of delivering nuclear warheads: “It ratchets up everything and makes the neighborhood a hell of a lot more dangerous.”
Wallace asks: “You’re saying at this point a nuclear Iran is unacceptable?”
“Correct,” Biden replies.
But critic Jerome Corsi, author of newly released “Atomic Iran,” contends Biden’s words should be assessed in the context of his “long track record of appeasement and double talk on the Iran nuclear risk.”
“The mullahs have known that Biden is their No. 1 go-to guy in the Senate whenever they want their bidding done to fool the American people,” Corsi charges.
In his book, Corsi names Biden, along with Democratic Sens. John Kerry, Ted Kennedy and Hillary Clinton as recipients of funds from the “pro-mullah lobby” in the U.S.
While there always has been debate over whether to engage or isolate rogue regimes, Biden’s concilatory approach to Tehran is especially dangerous, asserts Corsi.
“He’s being played for a fool and doesn’t recognize that that strategy failed in North Korea, and it’s going to fail here again,” he said. “What’s he going to do, act surprised when the mullahs make a bomb?”
Corsi cites intelligence reports indicating Iran may be close to developing a nuclear weapon.
Last week, for example, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon showed President Bush satellite surveillance photographs of Iranian nuclear installations to demonstrate the country’s development has reached an “advanced stage.” Sharon spoke of the danger of relying upon a time-consuming process of European negotiations, which include Britain, France and Germany.
Corsi said, “Just talking with [Tehran] over time, just negotiating with them, plays into the mullah’s strategy to buy time and make weapons. As long as we’re still talking, the mullahs are winning.”
As WorldNetDaily reported, Biden recently told a columnist the world must address Iran’s emotional needs and agree to a nonagression pact.
Biden was cited by the Boston Globe’s H.D.S. Greenway, who wrote that President Bush’s rhetoric about freedom and specific references to Iran is making people wonder if Tehran will be the next target, after Iraq.
Greenway wrote: “Senator Joseph Biden said that even if Iran was a full democracy like India, it would want nuclear capability, like India. What the world needed to address was Iran’s emotional needs, he said, with a nonaggression pact.”
Biden’s office in Washington did not reply to repeated requests from WND for comment.
Finding ‘common ground’
The senator’s sharp criticism of the Bush administration’s Iran policy has been expressed not only in Congress but in meetings with Iranian-Americans sympathetic to the mullah regime and with Iranian officials themselves.
Last year, Biden held a high-level, 90-minute meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi, which took place in a lounge in full view of reporters during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
The U.S. has had no official relations with Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
IRNA, the state Iranian news agency, reported Biden “stressed the importance of Iran and the role which it can play in the sensitive and volatile region” and said “he hoped the existing problems between the Islamic Republic of Iran and America would be removed someday.”
According to IRNA, “Kharrazi, in turn, said ‘the Iranian nation has suffered gravely from the antagonistic steps of the American government and so long as these wrong policies continue, there will be no ground for dialogue and improving the two countries’ relations.'”
“The report said Kharrazi “stressed that … American statesmen are required first to change their existing approach and prove their goodwill in order to pave the way for dialogue and diplomatic relations according to mutual respect.”
After expressing concern about Tehran’s nuclear intentions, Biden reportedly told Kharrazi he also is urging his own government to rethink its positions.
“You have to grow up, and my administration has to grow up, with all due respect, and find out if there is any common ground,” the senator said. “We are on the course of unintended consequences.”
Biden criticized Bush’s unwillingness to rule out an armed response, according to the report.
“I hope we’re all smarter about this, smarter than we’ve been,” Biden said. “I hope our leadership is brighter because if it’s not, it’s a very dull picture for the region, and for humanity.”
Show of support?
In 2002, amid protests from Iranian-Americans, Biden held a fund-raiser in the California home of a prominent lobbyist for the radical mullah regime, during which the senator “delivered a sweeping condemnation” of President Bush’s “Axis of Evil” formula, according to Ken Timmerman, writing in Insight magazine.
One Iranian-American activist said, “Getting the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to appear at this event will certainly be seen by the regime in Tehran as a show of support.”
Held at the home of Sadegh Namazi-khah, the fund-raiser brought in $30,000 for Biden’s re-election to the Senate that year.
“He really impressed us by his grasp of world affairs,” Namazi-khah told Insight. “He encouraged us to make our views known and to get more involved in American politics.”
Many of the participants were impressed with Biden’s friendly attitude toward the Islamic Republic of Iran, Timmerman wrote.
The senator said “Iran always wanted to be an ally of the United States and to have good relations with the U.S.,” according to Housang Dadgostar, a prominent lawyer.
“As Iranian-Americans, we don’t want anything to happen to the Iranian government or to the Iranian people as a result of this war on terrorism,” says Mohsen Movaghar, a Los Angeles businessman.
Both men belong to the 70-member board of directors of Namazi-khah’s Iranian Muslim Association of North America, or IMAN, Timmerman wrote.
Namazi-khah denied any official contact with the Iranian government, but said he regularly travels to Iran and actively supports “moderates” within the ruling clergy, such as Iranian President Mohammad Khatami.
Namazi-khah and other IMAN board members said Biden’s office had asked if they would hold the private fund-raiser after meeting with them at a pro-Tehran gala in New York in December 2001.
That event was sponsored by the American-Iranian Council, a pro-regime group lobbying to lift the trade embargo on Iran.
In a speech before that group in March 2002, Biden gave his prescription for U.S.-Iran relations.
The address, later entered into the Congressional Record, offered a five-step program for U.S. policy to improve relations with Iran. Biden said the United States should allow non-governmental organizations to support a range of civil society and democracy building activities in Iran; continue to work with Tehran on matters of mutual interest; should go along with Iran’s bid to join the World Trade Organization; should work to “indirectly assist” the Tehran regime in the fields of refugees and anti-narcotics efforts; and should encourage citizen exchanges with Iran.
In February, Biden said the Bush administration, which says it does not rule out any option to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, had to be willing to sign on to a “genuine nonaggression pact.”
“This is a case where we’re remaining to sit on the sidelines,” Biden said. “The three European countries that are negotiating with the Iranians are saying, ‘Look, we’ve got to get in the deal with them. We can’t just sit on the sidelines.”‘
He criticized Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for saying the U.S. might not sign on to a deal even if Iran promised to eschew missiles and nuclear weapons in a verifiable way.
“Nothing they’re going to be able to do is going to be involved with us unless we’re willing to get into some kind of an agreement that results in a verifiable arms control agreement,” Biden said.