US President Barack Obama told an American news magazine earlier this week that he was not naive about the threats against Israel made by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader.
“His ideology is steeped with anti-Semitism, and if he could, without catastrophic costs, inflict great harm on Israel, I’m confident that he would,” Obama told journalist Robin Wright of The New Yorker.
Nonetheless, the president said that the Iranian government's behavior was not as extreme as its rhetoric suggests.
“It is possible for leaders or regimes to be cruel, bigoted, twisted in their world views and still make rational calculations with respect to their limits and their self-preservation," Obama told The New Yorker. "And what we’ve seen, at least since 1979, is Iran making constant, calculated decisions that allow it to preserve the regime, to expand their influence where they can, to be opportunistic, to create what they view as hedges against potential Israeli attack, in the form of Hezbollah and other proxies in the region.”