Iran would have enough enriched uranium within three months to be able to make up to eight nuclear weapons if negotiations with the international community blow up, Vice President Joe Biden said late Thursday, noting that "the path has already been paved" for that outcome.
Biden's remarks at a dinner for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy played off concerns by critics, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, that the Obama administration is negotiating an agreement that paves the path for Iran to get a nuclear weapon.
"Let's get something straight so we don't kid each other," Biden said. "They already have paved a path to a bomb's worth of material. Iran could get there now if they walked away in two to three months without a deal."
President Obama and other administration officials have insisted that any agreement stemming from the framework announced April 2 in Lausanne, Switzerland, would put Iran at least a year away from obtaining a nuclear weapon for at least 10 years, though Obama has admitted Iran could develop one more quickly after the deal expires.
Critics have noted that this is an apparent backing down from Obama's stated position that he would not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon, but Biden said that policy still stands.
"President Obama, decided for the first time — people forget this — to make it an explicit, declared policy of the United States of America, no such policy existed before President Obama uttered it — that all instruments of American power to prevent — not contain, not contain — to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran would be used to prevent that from happening," Biden said.