By Kent Klein
The White House says President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are in full agreement on wanting to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. The two leaders discussed the issue by telephone Friday, and the Israeli leader also was scheduled to do so with Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
A White House statement says the president and the prime minister spoke as part of their regular consultations, and that Obama reaffirmed his “unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security.”
The statement also says the two leaders noted their close cooperation and coordination on what it calls “the threat posed by Iran.”
The conversation followed Netanyahu’s meeting Thursday with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The White House statement said Netanyahu welcomed the president’s commitment before the United Nations General Assembly to do what is needed to prevent Iran from having nuclear weapons.
At the U.N. Tuesday, Obama said a nuclear-armed Iran is not a challenge that can be contained.
“It would threaten the elimination of Israel, the security of Gulf nations and the stability of the global economy. It risks triggering a nuclear arms race in the region and the unraveling of the Non-proliferation Treaty,” said the president. “That is why a coalition of countries is holding the Iranian government accountable. And that is why the United States will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”
However, the president did not, as Netanyahu wants, say publicly what specific Iranian actions would cause the U.S. to intervene.
The prime minister told the General Assembly on Thursday that Iran must be stopped before it completes the second stage of nuclear enrichment necessary to make a bomb.
“So at this late hour, there is only one way to peacefully prevent Iran from getting atomic bombs, and that is by placing a clear, red line on Iran’s nuclear weapons program,” said Netanyahu.
The commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, General Mohammad Ali Jafari, said Friday that Israeli threats of military action only reinforce Iran’s determination to move ahead with its nuclear program.
Iran’s deputy U.N. ambassador, Eshagh al-Habib called Netanyahu’s allegations “baseless” on Friday. Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.
Romney has often criticized Obama’s relationship with Israel’s leaders.
Both Obama and Romney support using force if necessary to prevent Iran from possessing a nuclear weapon.
According to the statement, the president and Netanyahu agreed to continue their regular consultations on the matter.