STEPHANOPOULOS: But how do you respond to critics who say the United States should have come out forcefully right away, right away and said, this is wrong, stop it, and they say that would have made a difference?
BIDEN: Well, I don't -- I think the president was absolutely pitch-perfect. I think what the president did is exactly the right way. I think the president did not allow us to be used to as the scapegoat, us to be used as?
STEPHANOPOULOS: There were some reports that you were arguing for a more forceful response earlier.
BIDEN: Well, I think the president did it exactly right. I think he was correct.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And going forward, what next? What should the strategy be right now?
BIDEN: Well, look, the Iranian government has a choice. They either choose greater isolation, and from the whole world, or they decide to take a rightful place in the -- in civilized, big, great nations. They can -- that's the path they have to choose.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Haven't they already shown evidence in the last week of what their choice is?
BIDEN: Well, they have in terms of the way they conducted their election, but they haven't in terms of whether -- the real key issues to now, are they going to continue the nuclear program? Are they going to be braced by what happened? Is this going to alter their behavior internally or externally?
Look, responses that they saw on the street in any country have consequences. It's hard to predict what those consequences will be.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But what are the consequences for the U.S. relationship? I mean, the president had said he wants to meet with the Iranians over the nuclear program through the P-5. But how does he engage with the Iranians now without breaking faith with those reformers?
BIDEN: Well, the way you do it is if they choose to meet with the P5, under the conditions the P5 was laid out, it means they begin to change course. And it means that the protesters probably had some impact on the behavior of an administration that they don't like at all. And it believes and I believe that means there's consequences to that.
Now, if they in fact decide to shut out the rest of the world, clamp down, further isolation, I think that takes them down a very different path.
STEPHANOPOULOS: How do you respond to those who say that it's the United States now that should hit the pause button, there should be a cause correction, and we shouldn't rush to sit down...
BIDEN: Well, we're not. We're not rushing to sit down.
As I said to you, we have to wait to see how this sort of settles out. And there's already an offer laid out there by the permanent five plus one to say we're prepared to sit down and negotiate with you relative to your nuclear program. And so the ball's in their court.
STEPHANOPOULOS: When I saw President Ahmadinejad back in April, his response to that was that we need to see more from the United States first.
Is it fair to say now that there will be absolutely no more concessions to the Iranians in advance of those discussions?
BIDEN: It's fair to say the position the president has laid out will not change.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But there will be engagement -- if the Iranians want to...
BIDEN: If the Iranians seek to engage, we will engage.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And meanwhile, the clock is ticking...
BIDEN: If the Iranians respond to the offer of engagement, we will engage.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But the offer is on the table?