WHITE HOUSE - U.S. President Barack Obama has reiterated his determination to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. Obama and U.S. officials also spoke about broad objectives of his visit to Israel, the West Bank and Jordan next week.
In an interview with Israel's Channel 2 television, Obama said it would take Iran "over a year or so" to develop a nuclear weapon, adding as he put it, "obviously we don't want to cut it too close."
It was not clear whether he meant that U.S. and Israeli timelines agree about any so-called "breakout" decision by Iran to proceed to development of a weapon.
The Development and Proliferation of
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said recently that Iran is getting close to passing an Israeli "red line" marking that point.
Obama said diplomacy would yield "a more lasting solution," but reiterated his determination to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb.
"When I say that all options are on the table, all options are on the table; the United States obviously has significant capabilities," he said. "But our goal is to make sure that Iran does not possess a nuclear weapon that could threaten Israel or could trigger an arms race in the region."
Obama repeated that the window of opportunity for a diplomatic solution is not "infinite," adding Iran can still utilize an "open door."
U.S. officials spoke about broader objectives of Obama's Middle East trip that begins Wednesday in Jerusalem, and takes him to Ramallah in the West Bank, and Jordan.
U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro said there is excitement in Israel, where people also recognize a need for leaders to discuss critical issues such as Iran and Syria.
"I think they also are hopeful that the consultations between our leaders early in their new terms will chart the course for making progress on all of those issues in the months and in the years ahead," he said.
Obama will deliver a major address to Israelis in Jerusalem, but, he will not bring any new initiative for moving Israelis and Palestinians closer to direct negotiations on a two-state solution.
White House official Ben Rhodes said the president sees the trip as the start of a "broad conversation" about important decisions ahead and said Israel needs to consider changes in the region.
"Israel needs to take into account the changing dynamic and the need to reach out to public opinion across the region as it seeks to make progress on issues like Israeli-Palestinian peace and broader Arab-Israeli peace," he said.
President Obama will not be accompanied by his wife Michelle on the trip, but will have with him Secretary of State John Kerry, who recently traveled extensively in the region.
Related Information & Stories:
The Development and Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons
Today eight countries
are possessing nuclear weapons. The five nuclear weapons states
United States, Russia (former Soviet Union), United Kingdom, France
and China, are the only countries allowed to have nuclear weapons
according to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) from 1970. All
members of the United Nations except Israel, India and Pakistan have
signed the NPT.
Crying wolf over Iran's nuclear program - After producing his comic diagram during his speech at the United Nations General Assembly last September, drawing a red line in order to stop Iran's alleged imminent nuclear bomb, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for immediate action against Iran before it was too late. -Farhang Jahanpour 03/8/13
JUST THINKING FREELY: Potentials for a US-Iran Rapprochement- On Tuesday, February 26, the P5+1 and Iran commenced negotiations in Almati, Kazakhstan, and Chuck Hagel began his first day on the job as the new Secretary of Defense. Both these events bore great significance, considering what had gone on to lead to this stage of the game. - Kam Zarrabi 03/2/13
On Iran, try backscratching, not blackmail - If someone threatened to punish you unless you did something you didn't want to do, how would you respond? Unless the threatened punishment was really horrible you'd refuse, because giving into threats encourages the threatener to make more demands. But what if someone offered to pay you to do something you didn't want to do? -Stephen M. Walt, FP 02/28/13
... Payvand News - 03/15/13 ... --