U.S. vice presidential candidate Senator Joe Biden's press secretary vehemently denied on Monday a report that the Democratic candidate had said that Israel would have to reconcile itself to a nuclear Iran.
According to an unsourced report by Army Radio, the senator made the remarks to senior Israeli officials behind closed doors, adding that he opposed "opening an additional military and diplomatic front."
Biden, chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has long been considered strongly pro-Israel. His nomination as U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama's running mate had been expected to shore up the Democrats' strength with U.S. Jewish voters.
"It's doubtful if the economic sanctions will be effective, and I am against opening an additional military and diplomatic front," Army Radio quoted him as saying.
In response, Senator Biden's press secretary David Wade released a statement saying "This is a lie peddled by partisan opponents of Senators Obama and Biden and we will not tolerate anyone questioning Senator Biden?s 35-year record of standing up for the security of Israel."
"Joe Biden's first trip as a Senator was to Israel, he has worked with every Israeli leader from Golda Meir to Prime Minister Olmert, and he takes a back seat to no one when it comes to protecting the relationship between Israel and the U.S. Senator Biden has consistently stated - publicly and privately - that a nuclear Iran would pose a grave threat to Israel and the United States and that we must prevent a nuclear Iran," the statement continued.
As recently as July 2008, in a Foreign Relations hearing, Senator Biden reiterated his long-held view on this subject and stated that "Iran's acquisition of a nuclear weapon would dramatically destabilize an already unstable region and probably fuel a nuclear arms race in the region. It is profoundly in our interest to prevent that from happening,? the statement said.
Last year, in a widely quoted interview with year the Jewish American Shalom TV, Biden said, "I am a Zionist. You don't have to be a Jew to be a Zionist," adding that "Israel is the single greatest strength that America has in the Middle East," and that its presence as a strategic ally meant that America need station far fewer troops and warships in the region.
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