Tags: Barack Obama | Iran | Israel | times | friedman | obama | israel

Obama to NYT's Friedman: Iran Deal No Threat to Israel's Military Edge

By    |   Sunday, 05 Apr 2015 06:52 PM

Israel need not fear a loss of its "military edge" in the wake of the Iran nuclear talks, President Barack Obama told New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman in an interview recorded in the Oval Office on Saturday.

Obama said he respects the view from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Israel is more vulnerable to an Iranian attack and doesn't have the luxury of testing propositions the way the United States does.

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"And further, I completely understand Israel’s belief that given the tragic history of the Jewish people, they can’t be dependent solely on us for their own security," he said. "But what I would say to them is that not only am I absolutely committed to making sure that they maintain their qualitative military edge and that they can deter any potential future attacks, but what I’m willing to do is to make the kinds of commitments that would give everybody in the neighborhood, including Iran, a clarity that if Israel were to be attacked by any state, that we would stand by them."

America is powerful enough to test propositions with Cuba – and even the more powerful Iran – because of the overwhelmingly larger defense budget of the United States, he said.

"You asked about an Obama doctrine," he told Friedman. "The doctrine is: We will engage, but we preserve all our capabilities."

The framework agreement, reached last week, has been criticized by Netanyahu and most Republicans as a "bad deal."

Obama disagreed.

"It is a good deal even if Iran doesn’t change at all," Obama said. "Even for somebody who believes, as I suspect Prime Minister Netanyahu believes, that there is no difference between [President Hassan] Rouhani and the supreme leader [Ayatolla Ali Khamenei] and they’re all adamantly anti-West and anti-Israel and perennial liars and cheaters — even if you believed all that, this still would be the right thing to do. It would still be the best option for us to protect ourselves."

Israel and the United States can disagree on policy and maintain their relationship, Obama insisted. He admitted, though, that he has been stung by some Jewish Americans that he is anti-Semitic or anti-Israel.

Obama argues that Iran can be deterred from both its nuclear ambitions and its support of terrorism. He said internal forces eventually will push Iranian leadership to focus more on jobs and the economy. Iran still can be the major player in the Middle East without threats to Israel, the West and Sunni Muslims and waging proxy wars, he said.

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Israel need not fear a loss of its military edge in the wake of the Iran nuclear talks, President Barack Obama told New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman in an interview recorded in the Oval Office on Saturday.
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2015-52-05
Sunday, 05 Apr 2015 06:52 PM
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