Obama seeks concrete resolution to Iranian threat

US president tells 'The Atlantic,' Iran, Israel aware "I don't bluff," Americans "instinctively sympathize with Israel."

March 2, 2012 15:15
2 minute read.
US President Barack Obama

US President Barack Obama 390 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/Larry Downing)


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US President Barack Obama intends to tell Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in their upcoming meeting that he wants to solve the Iranian nuclear problem "permanently, as opposed to temporarily."

In an interview with The Atlantic released on Friday, Obama said, "Our argument is going to be that it is important for us to see if we can solve this thing permanently, as opposed to temporarily."

He continued, "The only way historically that a country has ultimately decided not to get nuclear weapons without constant military intervention has been when they themselves take [nuclear weapons] off the table. That's what happened in Libya, that's what happened in South Africa."

According to The Atlantic, Obama was concerned that a premature Israeli strike on Iran would make the regime less isolated.

"At a time when there is not a lot of sympathy for Iran and its only real ally [Syria,] is on the ropes, do we want a distraction in which suddenly Iran can portray itself as a victim?" the US president rhetorically asked.

Trying to shore up the US commitment to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons, Obama said, "I think that the Israeli government recognizes that, as president of the United States, I don't bluff."

"Both the Iranian and the Israeli governments recognize that when the United States says it is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon, we mean what we say," he continued.

Netanyahu and Obama are scheduled to meet during the prime minister's visit to Washington this week for the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference.

When it comes to supporting Israel, Obama seemed to argue that his actions - and not his sometimes-frosty relationship with Netanyahu - proved his commitment to the Jewish State and its security. 

"Every single commitment I have made to the state of Israel and its security, I have kept," he told The Atlantic. "Why is it that despite me never failing to support Israel on every single problem that they've had over the last three years, that there are still questions about that?"

While he and Netanyahu come from different political traditions, Obama said they have a strong working relationship. "For the most part, when we have differences, they are tactical and not strategic." Plus, he added, "I think we in the United States instinctively sympathize with Israel."

Ultimately, the US president expressed that he believes it is up to Israel to decide what is best for its security, but hopes to influence Israel's decision-making process.

"I don't presume to tell them what is best for them," he said, before laying out the case for allowing sanctions and external pressure to work.

"You're talking about the most volatile region in the world," Obama said. "The dangers of Iran getting nuclear weapons that then leads to a free-for-all in the Middle East is something that I think would be very dangerous for the world."

Click here for full Jpost coverage of the Iranian threat

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