US firm on Iran policy as Israel ‘close’ to strike
WASHINGTON / JERUSALEM
US President Barack Obama says there is a window of opportunity for diplomacy and sanctions to compel Iran to give up any effort to develop nuclear weapons. AFP photoU.S. President Barack Obama declared March 6 that diplomacy can still resolve the crisis over Iran’s possible pursuit of nuclear weapons while a former Israeli intelligence chief said Israel is “very close” to making a tough decision on whether to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities while it still has the chance.
Obama said his critics are forgetting the “cost of war” in their rush to punish Iran and defend Israel, which sees a nuclear Iran as a mortal threat in its Mideast neighborhood. Rhetoric on the right is “more about politics than about trying to solve a difficult problem,” Obama said at the White House.
He said he is focused on “crippling sanctions” already imposed on Iran and on international pressure to keep that nation from developing a nuclear weapon. Obama said his private meetings with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week carried the same message as his public pronouncements.
Speaking to reporters a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Obama, former military intelligence chief Amos Yadlin said the Israel was working to a much tighter deadline than Washington, Agence France-Presse reported. “Israel is very close to the point when a very tough decision should be made -- the bomb or the bombing,” he said, adding that the decision was also in the hands of the US president. Meanwhile, a spokesman for Gaza’s Hamas rulers said the group won’t strike Israel if there is a war between Iran and Israel.