President Barack Obama demands that Israel refrain from attacking Iran to cripple its nuclear weapons capability.
Obama sent a message to that effect to Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to Haaretz, a top Israeli newspaper.
A senior American official delivered Obama’s thoughts in a recent meeting with Netanyahu and other Israeli officials.
The U.S. is trying to prod Iran into giving up its quest for nukes by using the stick of sanctions and the carrot of improved ties with the West.
The White House is obviously worried that Israel may tire of waiting for results in a protracted diplomatic process and decide to launch a military strike on its own.
Obama went to the trouble of contacting Netanyahu about the issue before their White House meeting scheduled for next Monday.
Even before he was elected in February, Netanyahu took a tough stance on Iran."If elected I pledge that Iran will not attain nuclear arms, and that includes whatever is necessary for this statement to be carried out," he said, according to Haaretz.
Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak say they don’t oppose the U.S. dialogue with Iran, but they seek a clear deadline so that Iran knows the consequences of retaining its nuclear ambitions are strong sanctions and possibly worse.
The U.S.’ worry that Israel might launch a surprise attack began during the Bush administration, with Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen saying such a move would threaten the entire Mideast.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney says the U.S. needs to threaten Iran with attack to convince the nation to give up nukes. Negotiations are “bound to fail unless we are perceived as very credible” in threatening military action, he told Politico news service.
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