After reassuring skeptics for years that the military option against Iran will remain on the table, Obama has changed his tune, insisting that only a diplomatic agreement with Tehran could prevent a nuclear threat.
By: AP and World Israel News Staff
After stating several times that “all options are on the table,” including military action against Iran’s nuclear sites, if negotiations with the Islamic Republic fail, US President Barack Obama has changed his position.
The American leader reached out to a skeptical Israeli public in an interview to be aired on Israeli TV on Tuesday, saying that only an agreement, not military action, can prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
“I can, I think, demonstrate, not based on any hope, but on facts and evidence and analysis, that the best way to prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapon is a verifiable, tough agreement,” he stated.
Obama’s remarks come as an end-of-June deadline for a nuclear deal with Iran is fast approaching.
“A military solution will not fix it. Even if the United States participates, it would temporarily slow down an Iranian nuclear program, but it will not eliminate it,” he said on Channel 2’s investigative program Uvda, which means “Fact.”
Israel has said repeatedly that the emerging nuclear agreement with Iran is a “bad deal” and that a military option is still on the table to prevent Iran from getting the bomb. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been urging world leaders unceasingly not to settle for a dangerous agreement.
Speaking to German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Sunday, Netanyahu warned that a nuclear deal with Iran would give the Islamic Republic billions of dollars to finance its terror networks and increase its nuclear capabilities, regardless of an agreement. Therefore, he said, “there’s a need to hold out for a better deal, to use biting sanctions that have proved effective,”
Relations between Obama and Netanyahu have been tense at times, and the Iran issue has been a source of contention between the traditionally close allies.
The proposed deal would freeze Iran’s nuclear program for a decade in return for sanctions relief. Iran insists that its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes, while the West fears that Tehran will build nuclear weapons.
Israel views a nuclear-armed Tehran as a threat to its very existence, citing Iran’s repeated calls for Israel’s destruction, its long-range missile program and its support for violent anti-Israel terror groups like the Hezbollah in Lebanon. A nuclear Iran, Israeli leaders point out, would also pose a grave threat to the world.
When asked how he would respond if Israel were to act militarily without notifying him, Obama said he “won’t speculate on that.”
“I understand your concerns and I understand your fears,” he added.
Senior officials in Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs criticized Obama in Tuesday’s Israel Hayom daily, saying the US president seems “determined to achieve a bad deal with Iran.”