US President Barack Obama 390 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Larry Downing)
US President Barack Obama said on Sunday that Israel had not yet decided what to do in response to the escalating tension but was "rightly" concerned about Tehran's plans.
The US president explained that there were important risks to consider before any military strike against Iran and made clear he does not want to see more conflict in the oil-producing Gulf region.
In a television interview, Obama also said he did not believe Tehran had the "intentions or capabilities" to attack the United States, playing down the threats from Tehran and saying he wanted a diplomatic end to the nuclear standoff.
"Any kind of additional military activity inside the Gulf is disruptive and has a big effect on us. It could have a big effect on oil prices. We've still got troops in Afghanistan, which borders Iran. And so our preferred solution here is diplomatic," Obama said.
His comments echoed concerns expressed by earlier by Iran's neighbor Turkey that an attack on Iran would be disastrous.
"My number one priority continues to be the security of the United States, but also the security of Israel, and we are going to make sure that we work in lockstep as we proceed to try to solve this, hopefully diplomatically," he told NBC.
Responding to Obama's comments, former IDF chief of General Staff Dan Halutz said that while Israel should do everything to avoid any clash with its "only long-term ally (the United States)," when it comes to issues critical to Israel, Jerusalem need not sacrifice its interests for Washington.
With that in mind, Halutz said, Israel is waiting to see the effectiveness of international sanctions against Iran without taking any options off the table.
The former Air Force commander also criticized the US and Israeli security and political establishments for "talking too much" about a possible strike on Iran.
"The fact that senior officials in the security establishment drop fragments of information every once in a while is irresponsible," Halutz said in an interview with Army Radio on Monday.
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