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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs