News

Obama, Netanyahu to Hold Critical Talks on Iran Options

(L photo) U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at a campaign fundraiser in New York City, March 1, 2012 (R photo) Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper (R) meets with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Ottawa, March 2, 2012
(L photo) U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at a campaign fundraiser in New York City, March 1, 2012 (R photo) Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper (R) meets with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Ottawa, March 2, 2012

President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meet at the White House on Monday to discuss Iran. President Obama made his strongest comments yet about options regarding Iran amid ongoing intense global concerns about a possible pre-emptive Israeli military strike against Iranian nuclear sites.

Perhaps no meeting President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu have had over the past three years carried as much importance as the discussions Monday in the Oval Office.

Questions are many: With sanctions having major economic and other impacts on Iran, will Israel allow more time for pressure and diplomacy to work?

If Israel does strike Iran, how effective would the action be, with or without any possible U.S. support, in slowing Iran's nuclear development? How would the world deal with the negative effects sparked by a confrontation?

In an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic published on Friday, President Obama cautioned against any “premature” Israeli action, saying it could allow Iran to “portray itself as a victim.”

But he said he believes the Israeli government recognizes that “as President of the United States, I don’t bluff” when it comes to his determination to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and repeated that all options are on the table.

Colin Kahl is Associate Professor at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security.

He says Israel will do what is necessary to safeguard its security, but also needs to consider "blowback" for U.S. interests, including likely Iranian retaliation and the price of oil and the risk of dragging the United States into another war.

"An alliance runs in both ways. We are not going to tell the Israelis what to do, but we would hope I think that the Israelis would consider the effects that their actions could have on U.S. interests, their closest ally in the world, as they are making this cost-benefit calculation about whether to go to war," said Kahl.

The White House has kept to a carefully-worded script emphasizing success in "galvanizing" global support for unprecedented sanctions against Iran's financial and energy sectors, and the need to provide more "time and space" for a negotiated solution.

In remarks on Friday in Ottawa, Canada, Netanyahu said the international community should not fall into the trap of allowing Iran to use negotiations to gain time to advance its nuclear program.

This past week, the Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army General Martin Dempsey, who visited Israel in January, told U.S. lawmakers that he urged Israeli leaders to allow more time, but added military force remains an option.

"We have to decide what global pressure, including the use of force if and when necessary, can turn that regime away from its nuclear ambitions, its nuclear weapons ambition," Dempsey said.

Dalia Dassa Kaye, of the RAND Corporation, sums up what she calls a key dilemma facing the United States. "The dilemma for the U.S. is that of course the view in the region will certainly be that whether or not the U.S. was part of an attack, the U.S. will be implicated once the Israelis attack," said Kaye.

Israeli officials in Washington ahead of the Obama-Netanyahu talks include Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who is among those saying Israel might have to act before Iran enters a "zone of immunity" in which its nuclear sites would no longer be vulnerable to a pre-emptive strike.

Writing in the New York Times on Thursday a former chief of Israeli intelligence, Amos Yadlin, urged President Obama to provide an "ironclad assurance" that if Israel refrains from acting in its own window of opportunity, and all other options fail, the U.S. will act to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

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.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: James Williams
March 03, 2012 3:40 AM
Israel treats Palestinians like slaves, taking away their freedom and dignity and yet the Israelis are treated like the victims. The Israelis have NUCLAER weapons; why the West allow Israel to have NUCLEAR weapons. Israel is a hindrance to a peaceful Middle East. Israel commits crimes against humanity. Israel will learn a very good lesson if it tries to attack Iran. The West cannot see muslim countries moving forward with new technologies

by: Royal Kingdom of Greater Syria, government-in-exile
March 03, 2012 2:26 AM
We claim land inside present day Iran up to and including the Zagros mountains.

by: sonat c
March 03, 2012 2:19 AM
the americans are fed with wars so they should let the israeli and the iranians settle their account on their own

by: Gab to Ziamal Afghan
March 03, 2012 1:49 AM
I don't know about a world war, but Iran has certainly declared war on Israel, and supplies weapons and monetary aid to those who vow the complete destruction of Israel. Since the Arab world is not fond of Iran's leaders, who will be Iran's ally in this world war? Don't be afraid to say it!

by: ziarmal afghan
March 02, 2012 4:55 PM
I THINK ISRAEL WILL ATTACK ON IRAN BUT WE HOPE THAT ISRAEL UNDERSTAND EFFECTS OF THE ATTACK IN THE AREA I . IT POSSIBLY WILL START ANOTHER WORLD WAR.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
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.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs