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Obama: No Military Answer to Iran's Nuclear Program

  • Ken Schwartz

FILE- President Barack Obama.

FILE- President Barack Obama.

U.S. President Barack Obama says diplomacy, not military action, is the only way to stop Iran from building a nuclear bomb.

Obama made his comments in an interview with Israel's Channel 2 television, parts of which were broadcast Monday.

"I can, I think, demonstrate, not based on any hope but on facts and evidence and analysis, that the best way to prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapon is a verifiable tough agreement," the president said.

"A military solution will not fix it. Even if the United States participates, it would temporarily slow down an Iranian nuclear program but it will not eliminate it."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly warned that any nuclear deal with Iran would be a bad deal and still leave Iran with the ability to build a bomb, putting Israel in grave danger.

Netanyahu's non-stop denouncement of the nuclear talks - especially his appearance before the U.S. Congress in March - has angered the Obama administration.

But President Obama said in the interview that he understands Israel's "concerns" and "fears." He has said many times that Israel's security is a top U.S. priority.

In Washington Monday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the president will not sign any agreement with Iran that does not include inspections of Iranian military sites.

Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is saying he will not allow such inspections.

But Earnest said Iran agreed in the framework deal in April to cooperate with "the most intrusive set of inspections that have ever been imposed on a country's nuclear program."

"And the point is that there are other countries whose nuclear program requires some inspections that are conducted at military facilities," Earnest said.

The United States and its five negotiating partners - Britain, China, France, Germany, and Russia - have a June 30 deadline to reach a nuclear deal with Iran.

Iran would curb uranium enrichment to prevent it from being able to build a bomb. Tough sanctions that have wrecked the Iranian economy would be eased in exchange.

Details still to be worked out include the inspections to confirm if Iran is living up to the deal, and a timetable for ending the sanctions.

Iran has constantly denied wanting to build a nuclear weapon.

Meanwhile, the White House says Secretary of State John Kerry's broken leg will not take him out of action in the negations with Iran.

After Sunday's bicycle accident in France, Kerry will recover at a Boston hospital, but will still keep up what he says will be an aggressive schedule.

Earnest says it is unlikely Kerry will be able to travel to Europe frequently over the next month. But he said the secretary will continue to play a critically important role in the talks.

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