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Biden Israel-Iran Statements Cause Storm Of Regional Responses

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The effects of Vice President Joe Biden's recent remarks during an interview with ABC's "This Week"--where he implied that Israel has a sovereign right to defend itself against a nuclear-inclined Iran, irrespective of US demands or guidance--continued to ripple through the region with statements from a leading Iranian official. According to Al Jazeera, Iranian Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani made clear Monday that the US, more so than Israel, would be the one held in censure for an Israeli attack, and he vowed a "decisive and painful" Iranian response.

"We will consider the Americans responsible in any adventure launched by the Zionist entity," Larijani said in Doha, the capital of Qatar, on Monday during an official visit.

"No politician or person in the world can imagine that the Zionist entity can lead an operation without getting the green light from the United States."

The salient Biden remarks that have caused concern to Iranian officials are, according to Reuters:

"We cannot dictate to another sovereign nation what they can and cannot do when they make a determination, if they make a determination, that they're existentially threatened."

And,

"If the Netanyahu government decides to take a course of action different than the one being pursued now, that is their sovereign right to do that. That is not our choice. But there is no pressure from any nation that's going to alter our behavior as to how to proceed."

Interestingly enough, Biden actually expressed a somewhat opposite view in September of 2008 while running for Vice President when he said on US Jewish Army Radio that, "Israel will have to reconcile itself with the nuclearization of Iran."

However, via Greg Sargent, President Obama has since weighed in, speaking to CNN, to remove from the table any implicit US consent for an Israeli attack: "We have said directly to the Israelis that it is important to try and resolve this in an international setting in a way that does not create major conflict in the Middle East."

Obama also told CNN that the US has "absolutely not" given Israel permission to unilaterally attack Iran.

Of the factions now forming in Iran in the aftermath of its disputed June 12 election, Larijani, for his part, has sided explicitly with the state, endorsing Ahmadinejad's disputed victory and supporting the government crackdown of protests, which have been declared illegal by the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei (who is also the absolute authority on matters of foreign policy).

Larijani's statement Monday was accompanied elsewhere by a statement from the government of Saudi Arabia denying reports of secret dealings with Israel over the use of shared airspace to facilitate an attack on Iran.

However, Biden is not without his supporters. Israel's controversial right-wing foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, agreed with Biden's remarks, weighing them as "logical". According to the AP:

"I think he said things that are very logical," he said. "Israel is a sovereign state and at the end of the day, the government of Israel has sole responsibility for its security and future, not anybody else."

"Sometimes there are disputes between friends, but at the end of the day the decision is ours."

However, according to the AP report, most other Israel officials have abstained from comment, suggesting that they do not regard Biden's statement as a "green light" for any preemptive military action against Iran.

This is perhaps explained by the fact that the Netanyahu government in Israel is purposefully not querying the US, so as to maintain the freedom that comes with not having been explicitly told "no". Reported by the Washington Times:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his top deputies have not formally asked for U.S. aid or permission for possible military strikes on Iran's nuclear program, fearing the White House would not approve, two Israeli officials said.


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