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.
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