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PIX: Biden, Ryan spar over Iran in US vice prez debate

Last updated on: October 12, 2012 10:19 IST

Biden, Ryan spar over Iran in US vice prez debate

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Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan on Thursday accused the Obama administration of having failed in containing Iran's nuclear ambitions, as US Vice President Joe Biden asserted Tehran is still "a good way away" from acquiring an atomic weapon.

Even as the two American leaders agreed that Iran should not be allowed to gain access to nuclear weapons, both claimed to have different policies to do so.

"We cannot allow Iran to gain a nuclear weapons capability," Ryan said in a heated argument with Biden in Danville, Kentucky, during the only vice presidential debate in the run up to the November 6 presidential elections.

"When Barack Obama was elected, they had enough nuclear material to make one bomb. Now they have enough for five. They're four years closer toward nuclear weapons capability," Ryan said.

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Image: US Vice President Biden and Republican vice presidential nominee Ryan shake hands at the conclusion of the vice presidential debate in Danville
Photographs: Reuters

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'Iran moving faster towards a nuclear weapon'

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"In order to solve this peacefully, you have to have the ayatollahs change their minds. They're moving faster towards a nuclear weapon. It's because this administration has no credibility on this issue," he said.

Refuting Ryan's challenges, Irish-American Biden launched a stinging counter-attack and exuded confidence that the US under Obama administration could deal a serious blow to Iran.

"Facts matter. All this loose talk about all they have to do is get to enrich uranium and they have a weapon. Not true. Not true," Biden said.

"If we ever have to take action, unlike when we took office, we'll have the world behind us. And that matters."

"The Israelis and the United States -- our military and intelligence communities are absolutely the same exact place in terms of how close -- how close the Iranians are to getting a nuclear weapon. They are a good way away. There is no difference between our view and theirs," he said.

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Image: Paul Ryan speaks during the vice presidential debate with Joe Biden in Danville, Kentucky
Photographs: Reuters

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'We will not allow the Iranians to get a nuclear weapon'

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"When my friend talks about fissile material, they have to take this highly enriched uranium, get it from 20 per cent up. Then they have to be able to have something to put it in. There is no weapon that the Iranians have at this point. Both the Israelis and we know we'll know if they start the process of building a weapon," Biden said.

"What more can the president do? Stand before the United Nations, tell the whole world, directly communicate to the ayatollah: We will not let them acquire a nuclear weapon, period, unless he's talking about going to war," he said.

Ryan, however, claimed that the policies of the current administration are sending wrong signals to Iran.

"Let's look at this from the view of the ayatollahs. What do they see? They see this administration trying to water down sanctions in Congress for over two years. They're moving faster toward a nuclear weapon; they're spinning the centrifuges faster," he said.

An irritated Biden disagreed and vowed that the US will not allow Iran to go nuclear.

"The secretary of defence has made it absolutely clear. He didn't walk anything back. We will not allow the Iranians to get a nuclear weapon," the vice president said.


Image: Biden debates with Ryan in Danville
Photographs: Reuters

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