AntiWar.com & Politico.com & Wall Street Journal – 2012-02-06 00:55:38
‘No Decision’ on War Yet, But Obama Vows ‘Lockstep’ Support for Israel
‘No Evidence’ Iran Could Even Theoretically Attack US, Obama Concedes
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(February 05, 2012) — In a high profile pre-Super Bowl interview on NBC, President Barack Obama attempted to calm fears of an impending war with Iran, saying that Israel hadn’t yet decided on whether to attack Iran, but assuring that the US was committed to remaining “in lockstep” with Israel whatever it decides and describing Israel’s security as his “top priority.”
Alhough Obama insisted that he personally prefers a diplomatic solution to the endless dispute with the Iranian government, his comments suggest that the decision is really Israel’s to make. He refused to say whether Israel had been warned against starting the war or even whether Israel intended to inform the US before starting it.
Even as Obama was committing the US to the war, he sought to assure that the US would not be significantly affected by it, insisting there was “no evidence” that Iran even had the theoretical capability to retaliate against the United States if war broke out. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has warned that if the US attacks it would “harm America.”
Though Israeli officials have repeatedly threatened to attack Iran in recent days, most suggestions that Iran poses a real threat have come from US politicians. Former Sen. Rick Santorum used a campaign stop in Missouri last week to warn that Iran had designs on a nuclear attack against the state.
Obama: US in ‘Lockstep’ with Israel on Iran
Josh Gerstein / Politico.com
(February 5, 2012) — President Barack Obama said Sunday that he’s committed to working in “lockstep” with Israel to try to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, as concern is rising in the US and overseas about a possible Israeli strike on Iran that could unleash violence across the Middle East.
Obama seemed eager to calm worries that Israel is on the brink of a pre-emptive attack, even as he continued to warn about the danger of Iran becoming a nuclear power.
“I don’t think that Israel has made a decision on what they need to do,” Obama said during a six-minute, live interview from the White House during NBC’s Super Bowl pre-game show. “We are going to make sure that we work in lockstep, as we proceed to try to solve this — hopefully, diplomatically.”
Obama told NBC’s Matt Lauer that he believes expanded international sanctions on Iran are hurting the regime.
“They are feeling the pinch. They are feeling the pressure,” the president said. “But they have not taken the steps that they need to diplomatically to say ‘We will pursue peaceful nuclear power. We will not pursue a nuclear weapon.’ Until they do, I think Israel is going to be very concerned, and we are as well.”
Obama did not directly answer a question from Lauer about whether the US has blessed any military action by Israel, nor would he say whether Israel has promised to warn the US before carrying out a strike against Iran.
“I won’t go into the details of our conversations. I will say that we have closer military and intelligence consultation between our two countries than we ever have. And my number one priority continues to be the security of the United States, but also the security of Israel,” Obama said.
A series of published reports and statements from Israeli officials in the past week have raised concern that the Jewish state may act in the next few months to try to set back Iran’s nuclear program, which Tehran insists is peaceful but outside experts believe is aimed at building nuclear weapons.
In response to a question from Lauer, Obama said he doubts that Iran is seeking to carry out attacks in the United States. “We don’t see any evidence that they have those intentions or capabilities right now,” the president said.
Obama’s statement was a curious one, since an intelligence community assessment that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper presented to Congress last week said that some Iranian leaders “are now more willing to conduct an attack in the United States in response to real or perceived US actions that threaten the regime.”
Obama said he prefers a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear issue, in part because of the potential impact a military confrontation could have on the US economy and on US troops in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
“But we’re not going to take any options off the table, and I’ve been very clear that we’re going to do everything we can to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon,” the president saidâ€¦.
Obama: US Will ‘Do Everything We Can’ to Stop Iran From Getting a Nuclear Weapon
Carol E. Lee / Washington Wire â€“ Wall Street Journal
WASHINGTON (February 5, 2012) — President Barack Obama on Sunday wouldn’t rule out US support for an Israeli military strike against Iran, but said his administration still prefers a diplomatic solution to ease tensions over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.
Mr. Obama, in an interview with NBC that aired Sunday evening, said his administration will “do everything we can” to keep Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, while warning that military action would have an adverse impact on US economic and security interests.
“I don’t think that Israel has made a decision on what they need to do. I think they, like us, believe that Iran has to stand down on its nuclear weapons program,” Mr. Obama said. [Note: The president’s top intelligence officers have both stated that, at the present time, there is no evidence that Iran has a “nuclear weapons program.”]
“Our goal is to resolve this issue diplomatically, that would be preferable,” Mr. Obama said. “We’re not going to take any options off the table though. Obviously 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.”
Mr. Obama’s comments come as US defense officials are growing increasingly concerned that Israel will launch military strikes against Iran’s nuclear infrastructure.
The president declined to discuss details of his administration’s discussions with the Israelis, but said the two countries have been engaged in “closer military and intelligence consultation” than ever before.
“My No. 1 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 lock step as we proceed to try to solve this, hopefully diplomatically,” he said.
Meanwhile, he said Tehran is “feeling the pinch” of economic sanctions by the US and others.
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