President Obama,speaking days before a crucial meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel,rejected suggestions that the West could contain a nuclear-armed Iran,and warned that the US could take military action to prevent it from acquiring a bomb.
But the president also said he would try to persuade Netanyahu,whom he is meeting here on Monday,that a pre-emptive Israeli strike on Irans nuclear facilities could help Tehran by allowing it to portray itself as a victim. And he said such action would only delay,not prevent,Irans acquisition of nuclear weapons.
Obamas remarks,in a 45-minute interview with The Atlantic magazine earlier this week,were intended to reassure Jerusalem of Washingtons resolve to protect its ally against an Iranian threat,while making the case that Israel should not take matters into its own hands.
I think that the Israeli government recognises that,as president of the US,I dont bluff, Obama said. I also dont,as a matter of sound policy,go around advertising exactly what our intentions are. But I think both the Iranian and the Israeli governments recognise that when the US says it is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon,we mean what we say, the president said.
Obamas remarks built on his vow in the State of the Union address that the US would take no options off the table in preventing Iran from acquiring a weapon. But he was more explicit in saying that those options include a military component, albeit after a list of other steps. The president spoke at length about how he believed Irans acquisition of a weapon would trigger an arms race in the Middle East,offering his most robust case for why the West could not successfully contain Iran the way it did the Soviet Union during the Cold War.