News

    Obama: Diplomacy Top Option on Iran

    US President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks during the American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference in Washington March 4, 2012.
    US President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks during the American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference in Washington March 4, 2012.

    President Barack Obama says the United States will use every element of its power, including military force if necessary, to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. Mr. Obama addressed the largest pro-Israel group in the United States on Sunday on the eve of his meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

    Mr. Obama mixed strong language about Iran's nuclear program with an appeal for more time to allow sanctions and diplomacy to turn Iran's government away from developing a nuclear weapon.

    Watch Michael Bowman's related report:


    No Israeli government, he said, "can tolerate a nuclear weapon in the hands of a regime that denies the Holocaust, threatens to wipe Israel off the map, and sponsors terrorist groups committed to Israel’s destruction."

    As president, Mr. Obama said he has a "deeply-held preference for peace over war" and will only use force when "the time and circumstances demand it." But to long applause from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, he said Iran's leaders should not doubt the resolve of the U.S. or Israel. “So we all prefer to resolve this issue diplomatically. Having said that, Iran’s leaders should have no doubt about the resolve of the United States, just as they should not doubt Israel’s sovereign right to make its own decisions about what is required to meet its security needs," he said.

    Mr. Obama repeated that he takes no options off the table in the effort to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.  Again to loud applause from the AIPAC audience, he made clear that military force remains an option along with the political, diplomatic and economic efforts being applied. "And yes, a military effort to be prepared for any contingency. Iran’s leaders should understand that I do not have a policy of containment, I have a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon," he said.

    But Mr. Obama said sanctions have succeeded in slowing Iran's nuclear program, "virtually grinding the Iranian economy to a halt" and dividing its leadership, and noted that Iran faces the prospect of even more crippling sanctions.  

    The president said both the U.S. and Israel assess that Iran does not yet have a nuclear weapon. The international community, he added, has a responsibility to use the "time and space" that exists to persuade Iran's leaders to make the right decision rather than "continue down a dead end."  Mr. Obama criticized what he called "loose talk of war," and said now is not the time for "bluster."

    Before President Obama spoke, Israel's president, Shimon Peres, addressed the conference, thanking Mr. Obama for being a strong friend of Israel.

    Calling Iran's regime "evil, cruel and morally corrupt" and a danger to Israel and the world, Mr. Peres said Israel prefers peace but will fight if necessary. He added that the U.S. and Israel are united in their commitment to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. "The United States and Israel share the same goal to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. There is no space between us. Our message is clear: Iran will not develop a nuclear weapon," he said.

    President Obama's address to the annual AIPAC conference came on the eve of his Oval Office talks on Monday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, expected to focus primarily on Iran, along with the troubled Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

    Mr. Obama and President Peres reiterated the importance of a two-state solution. They also mentioned the ongoing violence in Syria, with Mr. Obama saying upheaval in the region makes it more important to solve the Israeli-Palestinian issue.

    In his remarks on Sunday, Mr. Obama hit back at Republican presidential candidates who have alleged he has been weak in supporting Israel.

    He said "there should not be a shred of doubt" about that support, adding the U.S. - Israel relationship "is simply too important to be distorted by partisan politics."

    Join the conversation on our social journalism site - Middle East Voices. Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.
    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora