News / Middle East

Obama, Netanyahu Issue Warnings to Iran and Assad

President Obama (left) and Israeli PM Netanyahu at news conference in Jerusalem, March 20, 2013
President Obama (left) and Israeli PM Netanyahu at news conference in Jerusalem, March 20, 2013
U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu say they are united in their determination to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.  Iran and Syria were major topics of conversation on Obama's first day in Israel, as he began a four-day Middle East trip.  
 
At a joint news conference, both leaders said the United States and Israel agree that a nuclear-armed Iran would be a threat to Israel, the region and the world.

Obama said there is "very little daylight" (very little difference) between U.S. and Israeli government assessments on Iran's nuclear development.  He said a diplomatic solution is the preferable and longer lasting outcome, but added that he respects Israel's right to act on its own as the U.S. keeps all options open.

"The United States will continue to consult closely with Israel on next steps and I will repeat, all options are on the table, and we will do what is necessary to prevent Iran from getting the world's worst weapons," said President Obama.

Obama said Iran's past behavior indicates that the international community "can't even trust, much less verify" Tehran’s pledges.  But he said the world needs to continue "testing" whether the issue can be resolved diplomatically.  

Netanyahu said he is "absolutely convinced" that Obama is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and he believes Obama fully understands Israel's position.

"The United States is committed to deal with it, Israel is committed to deal with it," said Netanyahu. "We have different vulnerabilities obviously and different capabilities, we take that into account.  But what we do maintain, and I think the president is the first to do so, is that Israel has a right to independently defend against any threat including the Iranian threat."

Netanyahu said if Iran arrives at an "immunity zone" in its uranium enrichment process, "whatever time is left is not a lot of time" for action.  Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

Talks also covered the bloody civil war in Syria and the use or transfer of chemical weapons to terrorist groups.  Obama said this would be a "game changer," although he said the U.S. and its partners are working to learn the facts.

"When you start seeing weapons that can cause potential devastation, and mass casualties, and you let that genie out of the bottle, then you are looking potentially at even more horrific scenes than we have already seen in Syria, and the international community has to act on that additional information," said Obama.

President Obama and Israeli leaders say they are fully committed to reviving stalled Israel-Palestinian peace negotiations for a two-state solution.

Obama said his goal is to ensure that the United States remains a positive force in creating opportunities for peace.

Netanyahu spoke of turning a page in Israel's relations with Palestinians.

"Let us sit down at the negotiating table," he said. "Let us put aside all preconditions.  Let us work together to achieve the historic compromise that will end our conflict once and for all."

President Obama meets Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas Thursday in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.

Related video report:

Obama, Israeli Leaders Reaffirm Security Tiesi
X
March 20, 2013 4:57 PM
President Barack Obama and Israeli leaders have reaffirmed the strength of the U.S.-Israel security relationship, as Obama began a four-day Middle East trip. VOA senior White House correspondent Dan Robinson reports from Jerusalem.

You May Like

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Kurdish service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win More

Russian Anti-Corruption Campaigner Slams Putin’s Crackdown on Dissent

In interview with VOA Alexei Navalny says he believes new law against 'undesirable NGOs' part of move to keep Russian president in power More

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs