In the light of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to the U.S. to discuss strategies regarding Iran's allegedly clandestine nuclear weapons program, President Obama has made it clear that the U.S. will strive to protect its ally Israel, though he would persuade the Jewish state to postpone its war plans.
In an interview held earlier this week, Obama said that U.S. has Israel's back and that it would initiate a military strike on Iran if Tehran failed to pull the plug on its nuclear arms program.
I think that the Israeli government recognizes that, as president of the United States, I don't bluff, Obama told journalist Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic. I also don't, as a matter of sound policy, go around advertising exactly what our intentions are. But I think both the Iranian and the Israeli governments recognize that when the United States says it is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon, we mean what we say.
Obama said military action would only be the final option, while all options are on the table on how to handle the Iran situation.
The Obama administration wants Israel to wait a few more months since that would provide enough time to see if international sanctions and penalties had the desired effect on Iran.
Without in any way being under an illusion about Iranian intentions, without in any way being naive about the nature of that regime, they are self-interested, Obama said. It is possible for them to make a strategic calculation that, at minimum, pushes much further to the right whatever potential breakout capacity they may have, and that may turn out to be the best decision for Israel's security.
While Israel considers nuclear Iran an existential risk, Obama said Iranian nuclear bomb poses a profound national security threat to the U.S. even if Israel were not being targeted directly.
You're talking about the most volatile region in the world, he said. It will not be tolerable to a number of states in that region for Iran to have a nuclear weapon and them not to have a nuclear weapon. Iran is known to sponsor terrorist organizations, so the threat of proliferation becomes that much more severe.
A U.S. intelligence official, who wished to remain anonymous, had recently said that Israel may be planning to launch an attack on Iran without warning the U.S.
In a report by the Associated Press Monday, the intelligence official familiar with the top-level bilateral discussions between the U.S. and Israel said that the Israeli authorities may keep the U.S. in the dark to reduce the likelihood of Washington being held responsible in failing to stop Israel from initiating a crisis situation in the already turbulent Middle East. But Tel Aviv's stance also signifies its frustration over Washington's perceived reluctance to support Israel in initiating a military action, the report said.