Vice President Joe Biden speaks at Atlanta convention - CBS46 News

Vice President Joe Biden speaks at Atlanta convention

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Vice President Joe Biden (Source: Vice President Joe Biden (Source:
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Vice President Joe Biden spoke at a religious convention in Atlanta on Tuesday.

The Rabbinical Assembly, an international body of 1,600 conservative rabbis serving 1.5 million Jews worldwide, invited Biden to speak at its annual convention at the Westin Perimeter Hotel in Atlanta.

"I'm proud, I'm proud to be standing before you," said Biden.

Biden stressed the Obama administration's support for Israel on Tuesday, telling the group that he's frustrated by critics who say the White House is not committed to the security of the Jewish state.

"He made it clear while we want a better relationship with the Arab world. Israel's legitimacy is not up for debate, and our support for Israel is not a matter of debate," said Biden.  

Biden was clear about Iran's threat to Israel and the backing the Jewish community has from the United States.

"We will prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon by whatever means we need. Period, period," said Biden.

Biden pointed to the more than $3 billion in security assistance that President Barack Obama has requested for Israel for next year and the sanctions against Iran that go into effect this summer. He said the financial and oil sanctions, passed by the U.S. and the European Union, will devastate the Iranian economy.

"When we took office, there was virtually no international pressure on Iran," Biden said. "We were the problem. We were diplomatically isolated in the world, in Europe ... By presenting Iran with a clear choice, we demonstrated that Iran is the problem, not the United States. That's why China, Europe, Russia, the rest of the world has joined us in these sanctions."

Biden went on to say, "The purpose of this pressure is not punishment, it's to convince Iran that the price, and it's an overwhelming price to be paid for pursuing nuclear weapons capability, that the price is too high."

According to the Rabbinical Assembly, Atlanta is home to the second-fastest growing Jewish community in the United States.

"We're thrilled that Vice President Joseph Biden has accepted our invitation to address our members," read a statement on the Rabbinical Assembly's website. "Vice President Biden, through decades of service in public life, has long been a dedicated and loyal supporter of the Jewish community and our values and priorities." 

Biden attended a private fundraiser in Atlanta on Monday night. He will finish his southern tour with a fundraising stop in Charleston, SC. 

Copyright 2012 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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