By Jim Kouri
President Barack Obama stated on Sunday that the United States will cooperate with the Israeli government in preventing Iran from joining the world’s “nuclear club.” But Obama quickly noted that a diplomatic solution to this nuclear crisis is still his goal.
During an interview with NBC News from the Oval Office, Obama said that both the U.S. and Israel — which is “rightly” concerned about Iran’s nuclear ambitions — believe that “Iran has to stand down.”
When he was asked if Israel is determined to attack Iran, Obama replied that he didn’t think Israel has made a decision. “We don’t see any evidence that they have those intentions or capabilities right now,” he said, adding that the his administration and Israel will work “in lockstep” on dealing with the Iranian nuclear crisis.
The President again emphasized that his goal is to deal with the Iranian nuclear provocation diplomatically, and Obama repeated his usual mantra that “he was not taking any options off the table.”
“We’re going to do everything we can to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon and creating an arms race — a nuclear arms race — in a volatile region,” Obama said during his interview with NBC, a TV network accused by some of being openly pro-Obama.
President Obama made his remarks after news stories surfaced on Thursday that U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta believed that Israel could attack Iran this spring to prevent Tehran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
Panetta believed that there is a strong likelihood that Israel will strike Iran in April, May or June before Iran enters what Israelis described as a “zone of immunity” to commence building a nuclear bomb, according to an article written by the Washington Post columnist David Ignatius.
The article said that Obama and Panetta had cautioned the Israelis that the U.S. opposes an attack, believing that it would derail an increasingly successful international economic sanctions program and other non-military efforts to stop Iran from crossing the nuclear threshold.
While believing that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not made a final decision to attack Iran, senior U.S. officials are still worried about “the guns of spring — and the unintended consequences,” the article added.
Obama’s critics have called his current Middle East policy part of his re-election campaign strategy to regain his Jewish support.