News / Middle East

    Obama: Not Much Difference with Israel on Iran Nuclear Assessment

    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.
    U.S. President Barack Obama says there is not much difference between U.S. and Israeli assessments of how close Iran is to potentially developing a nuclear weapon.

    Speaking alongside Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem Wednesday on the first day of a four-day Middle East trip, Obama said he would not expect his host to defer any decisions about military action to another country - even a close ally such as the United States.  He repeated the U.S. position that "all options" are on the table for stopping Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon but said there is still time to resolve the issue diplomatically.

    Israel sees an Iranian nuclear weapon as a threat to its existence due to Tehran's calls for the destruction of the Jewish state.  Iran insists that its nuclear program is designed only for peaceful research and electricity generation.

    Netanyahu said he and Obama have a "common assessment" that it will take Iran about one year to make a nuclear bomb if it decides to do so.  He said Iran's continued enrichment of uranium, a key ingredient of such a bomb, is a separate matter.

    The Israeli prime minister said he believes that if Iran "gets through" the enrichment process, it will reach an "immunity zone" - a reference to a situation in which military action would not be able to stop it.  In a speech to the United Nations last September, Mr. Netanyahu warned that Iran could reach such a "red line" by the middle of this year.

    It was not clear if Obama shared the Israeli leader's view of the "immunity zone."

    U.S., Israel Hail Alliance

    Earlier, Obama and Israeli leaders reaffirmed the strength of the U.S.-Israel security relationship. 

    Obama received a full ceremonial welcome at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport, embracing Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres, and reviewing a military honor guard.

    "Across this region, the winds of change bring both promise and peril. So I see this visit as an opportunity, to reaffirm the unbreakable bond between our nations, to re-state America's unwavering commitment to Israel's security, and to speak directly to the people of Israel and to your neighbors," Obama said, explaining why he made Israel the first stop of the first overseas trip of his second term.

    Click to EnlargeClick to Enlarge
    x
    Click to Enlarge
    Click to Enlarge
    Netanyahu said the need for the U.S.-Israel alliance is greater than ever amid unpredictable changes in the Middle East, adding Israel continues to seek peace with Palestinians.

    "In an unstable and uncertain Middle East, the need for our alliance is greater than ever," he said.  "It is the key to thwarting dangers to advancing peace.  It's the key to achieve a stable and secure peace that the people of Israel yearn for all our neighbors, and with all our hearts.  We seek a peace with our Palestinian neighbors."

    • U.S. President Barack Obama walks with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, right, upon his arrival at Queen Alia International Airport in Amman, Jordan, March 22, 2013.
    • Obama tours the Hall of Names during his visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, March 22, 2013. With him are Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate Avner Shalev and Israeli President Shimon Peres.
    • President Obama with Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, left, after visiting the Hall of Remembrance at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, Israel, March 22, 2013.
    • Obama shares a laugh with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during an official state dinner hosted by Israel's President Shimon Peres (not pictured) in Jerusalem, March 21, 2013.
    • Members of the audience listen as President Obama delivers a speech on Mideast policy at the Jerusalem Convention Center, March 21, 2013.
    • Obama interacts with children as he tours the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, March 22, 2013.
    • Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas walks with  Obama at the Muqata Presidential Compound in the West Bank town of Ramallah, March 21, 2013.
    • President Obama lays a wreath at the grave of former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin at Mt Herzl in Jerusalem March 22, 2013.
    • Rows of police officers on standby during Obama's visit in the West Bank city of Ramallah, March 21, 2013.
    • President Obama shakes hands with Israeli children as he is welcomed in Jerusalem, March 20, 2013.
    • U.S. President Obama, Israeli President Shimon Peres and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speak with greeters at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, March 20, 2013.
    • Israeli soldiers walk towards their positions as they prepare for an official ceremony to welcome President Obama at Ben Gurion International Airport, near Tel Aviv, Israel, March 20, 2013.
    • Posters calling for Obama to free Jonathan Pollard from a U.S. prison on display in Jerusalem, March 20, 2013.

    Iron Dome

    Obama also inspected a missile battery and other equipment, part of the Iron Dome defense system Israel built with U.S. aid, and has used to shoot down missiles fired from Hamas-ruled Gaza.

    Later in Jerusalem, Obama said his talks with Peres focused on shared concerns about Iran's nuclear program and stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.

    "Today was another opportunity for me to benefit from the president's perspective on a whole range of topics, from the historic changes that are taking place across the region, to the perils of a nuclear-armed Iran, to the imperatives of peace between Israelis and Palestinians to the promise of our digital age," Obama said.

    Iran

    Peres spoke of what he called a common U.S.-Israeli vision to confront dangers, and spoke about Iran.

    "The greatest danger is a nuclear Iran. So you said, so you do.  We trust your policy which calls to try by non-military means with a clear statement that both other options remain on the table," he said. "You have made it clear that your intention is not to contain, but to prevent."

    Peres reaffirmed Israel's commitment to a two-state solution to the conflict with Palestinians, but called Hamas in Gaza a terrorist organization that continues to target innocent civilians.

    The Israeli president said chemical weapons in the hands of the Syrian government cannot be allowed to fall into the hands of terrorist groups, which he said would be an "epic tragedy."

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

    Interactive Timeline

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Vladimir Nazerbayev from: Russia
    March 20, 2013 3:25 PM
    Dr. Fritz, Putin is in Israel so much times because virtually all Russian Oligarchs are there. and, Israel has become not only the "silicon Vally" of Europe and Asia but also the hub of CIA FSB integrated think tanks. please to pay attention.

    by: NVO from: USA
    March 20, 2013 1:57 PM
    Article should read: "Obama, Israeli Leaders Hail lies, smoke&mirrors to deceive the public, media shut up by Rockefellers".

    by: NVO from: USa
    March 20, 2013 1:10 PM
    Oh, Please!! Obama, you claim to be "Christian", yet you are for gay marriage, and the dividing of the land in Jerusalem. Now is that in agreement with Scripture???? You are a New Ager, NOT a Christian, plain and simple. Scripture says ALL nations will come against Israel, so "eternal" is a joke. Read THE BOOK.

    by: Dr. Hans Fritz from: Germany
    March 20, 2013 12:50 PM
    the consensus of academicians in Germany is that Obama's visit to Israel has become extremely necessary in view of Putin visiting Israel over a dozen times in just the last three years...

    by: david lulasa from: tambua,gimarakwa,hamisi,v
    March 20, 2013 9:22 AM
    its a holiday for the people of israel..both jews and palestinians.



    by: Rouffian from: Paris, France
    March 20, 2013 7:49 AM
    It is a pretty sad waste of time really. Obama knows that he cannot stop Israel's encroachment onto the West Bank or the persecution and mistreatment of the Palestinians. So what use is this trip? It's to show solidarity with a state that has become the new South Africa. Is that really what the President of the USA should be doing? Supporting apartheid and war crimes?

    Still, America persists in its deluded belief that having Israel as an ally is good for its interests in the middle east, despite the evidence and the advice of its own analysts.

    I remember when Obama offered hope. Now he is peddling apathy and despair.

    by: JohnWV from: USA
    March 20, 2013 7:21 AM
    Abandoning and aggressively isolating the Jewish state would force it to abandon its existential threats to Iran, continuing horrors wreaked upon Palestine and paranoid pursuit of invulnerability, territorial conquest and racist empire in, and beyond, the Mideast. America would regain financial integrity and stature among nations. There is no greater or kinder support that we could render to the Mideast, and our “inseparable Mideast ally.”

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora