WASHINGTON – US President Barack Obama warned Wednesday that the window to
resolve the crisis over Iran’s nuclear program diplomatically was shrinking, and
that Tehran would face consequences if it didn’t take fresh talks
“Because the international community has applied so many
sanctions, because we have employed so many of the options that are available to
us to persuade Iran to take a different course, the window for solving this
issue diplomatically is shrinking,” Obama said during a Rose Garden press
conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron.
“I hope that the
Iranian regime understands that this is their best bet for resolving this in a
way that allows Iran to rejoin the community of nations and prosper, and feel
secure themselves,” Obama said.
Obama was responding to a reporter’s
question of whether the talks recently announced by the P5+1 group of world
powers were Tehran’s final opportunity to resolve the nuclear issue before
military action was taken.
Russian newspaper Kommersant reported
Wednesday that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sent a message to Iran,
with which it does not have diplomatic relations, via Russian Foreign Minister
Sergei Lavrov, that the negotiations were Iran’s “last chance,” according to an
unnamed Russian diplomatic source.
“The Israelis are de facto
blackmailing Obama. They put him into an interesting position: Either he backs
the war or loses the support [of the American Jewish lobby],” the well-connected
newspaper quoted a Russian diplomatic source as saying, Reuters
The State Department did not respond to a request for
confirmation from The Jerusalem Post, and the Kommersant article wasn’t cited
during the Rose Garden press conference.
But Obama did say that “I have
sent a message very directly to them publicly that they need to seize this
opportunity of negotiations with the P5+1 to avert even worse consequences for
Iran in the future.”
Cameron joined Obama in warning that should Tehran
refuse to meet the conditions on its nuclear program imposed by the
international community, the US, Britain and other international partners would
“continue to increase the political and economic pressure to achieve a peaceful
outcome to this crisis.” He added that “nothing is off the table.”
welcomed Cameron to Washington with a state dinner set for Wednesday night, and
on Tuesday brought the British leader to a college basketball game in Ohio. The
two leaders also discussed Syria, Afghanistan and the economic difficulties
facing both nations.
The pair touched on these issues in a joint op-ed
published in The Washington Post ahead of the prime minister’s visit, in which
they “there is time and space to pursue a diplomatic solution” with
Their consultations follow the visit last week of Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu, who stressed that time is running out and that Iran has used
diplomacy as a stalling tactic in the past.
Obama acknowledged this
concern in his remarks Wednesday.
He pointed to Tehran’s history of
looking “to delay, stall, to do a lot of talking but not actually move the ball
forward” in talks and warned them not to take such a similar approach this
Meanwhile, polls on attitudes toward a strike on Iran yielded
A Reuters/Ipsos poll released Tuesday found that 56
percent of Americans would support US military action against Iran if there were
evidence of a nuclear weapon program, while 39% were opposed.
same number, 53%, said they would back strikes even if they led to higher gas
prices, with slightly more, 42%, saying they would not.
In addition, 62%
of Americans would support Israel taking military action against Iran for the
same reasons, according to the Reuters/Ipsos poll.
But that finding was
in direct contrast to the determination of another survey, released by the
Brookings Institution on Tuesday, which indicated that only one in four
Americans favors Israel conducting a military strike against Iran’s nuclear
program. Some 69% preferred for the US and world powers to consider diplomacy
The polling project was supervised by Steven Kull, director of
the Program on International Policy Attitudes, and Shibley Telhami, the Anwar
Sadat Chair for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland and a
Brookings senior fellow.
In addition to phrasing the question as a choice
between an Israeli attack and American pursuit of diplomacy, the poll also
differed with that of Reuters/Ipsos in that the latter added the context of
evidence of a nuclear weapon program, while the poll released by Brookings gave
no such additional context.
A third poll, to be released Thursday, found
that 50% of Israelis believe the IDF should not attack Iranian nuclear reactors,
even if diplomatic attempts fail. Only 43% support such a strike, the poll
While 78% of the Israeli public believes a military strike would
postpone Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapon by several years, only 16%
believe it would eliminate its nuclear capability altogether, according to the
Jerusalem Post staff and Reuters contributed to this report.