Speaking at the 45th Munich Security Conference, Vice President Joe Biden said the United States is prepared to engage, listen, and consult with its allies.
"America needs the world," said Mr. Biden, "just as I believe the world needs America. But we say to our friends that the alliances, treaties and international organizations we build must be credible and they must be effective. That requires a common commitment not only to listen and live by the rules, but to enforce the rules when they are clearly violated."
Such an approach, said Vice President Biden, can be central to the efforts to convince Iran to abandon its nuclear weapons program. "The Iranian people are a great people," said Mr. Biden. "The Persian civilization is a great civilization. But Iran has acted in ways that are not conducive to peace in the region or to the prosperity of its own people. Its illicit nuclear program," said Mr. Biden, "is but one of those manifestations."
The United States is reviewing its policy towards Iran. "We'll be willing to talk to Iran and to offer a very clear choice," said Vice President Biden:
"Continue down the current course and there will be continued pressure and isolation; abandon the illicit nuclear program and your support for terrorism, and there will be meaningful incentives."
In the meantime, NATO will need to better equip itself to stop the spread of the world's most dangerous weapons and to tackle terrorism and cyber-security, said Mr. Biden:
"We continue to develop missile defense to counter the growing Iranian capability, provided the technology is proven and it is cost effective. We'll do so in consultation with you, our NATO allies, and with Russia."
NATO started in the shadow of the Cold War. Now it finds itself in a new century facing new threats. "We must have the common courage and commitment," said Vice President Joe Biden, "of those who came before us to work together, to build together, to stand together."