While Sen. Joseph Biden has been one of the most vocal critics of Sen. Bill Frist's plans to employ the so-called "nuclear option" to end Democrats' use of the filibuster to block President Bush's judicial nominees, he is less concerned about Iran going "nuclear," and has perhaps encouraged Iran's pursuit of weapons of mass destruction.
Recently, Biden sat down for an interview with Fox News' Chris Wallace and stated that nuclear weapons in the hands of the Iranians was unacceptable. Yet this is the same who Biden has gone out of his way to reach out to Iran's mullahs and send them mixed American messages. Where the Bush administration sees Iran as part of that "Axis of Evil," Biden has held private meetings with and raised money from mullahs or sympathizers of mullahs who regularly crush peaceful democratic protests in their land.
"In Iran, Biden is known as that theocracy's number one supporter. Every time they look to undercut the American position on Iran, they turn to him," says a U.S. State Department staffer. "He's made us look like fools on the international stage a couple of times in the past few years, even when Clinton was in office."
Biden has spoken in the past about his support for a nonaggression pact with Iran as means of discouraging that country's pursuit of nuclear weapons. A nonaggression pact was part of the discussion between Biden and Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi, during a 90-minute meeting the two men had on January 23, 2004, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Biden had not sought approval from the Bush administration for the meeting, despite the fact that the United States continues to hold the policy that there are no official relations with Iran. The fact that he used the meeting to criticize President Bush, his administration and the approach of then Secretary of State Colin Powell probably had something to do with that. According to the State Department source, Kharrazi returned to his delegation saying believing Biden was a man Iran could work with to both get diplomatic relations up and running while also building an nuclear arsenal.
Biden is believed to have held the meeting in Switzerland not only for the attention it would give him, but also as favor to the Iranian Muslim Association of North America. In 2002, one of the board members of the group, whose members regularly travel to Iran, and whose trips are monitored by U.S. intelligence, held a fundraiser for Biden that raised more than $30,000 for Biden's Senate re-election campaign.
Sadegh Namazi-khah hosted the fundraiser, and today is believed to be one of Biden's fundraisers and outreach volunteers for his leadership PAC and his presidential exploratory campaign. But Namazi-khah and his group have their fingers in other campaigns, as well. The Iranian Muslim Association of North America is believed to have supporters out raising money for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in New York, and were fundraisers for Sen. John Kerry in 2004.
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