World News

Obama: Not Much Difference with Israel on Iran Nuclear Assessment

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 in Jerusalem Wednesday, Mr. 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.

Mr. Netanyahu said he and Mr. 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 Mr. Obama shared the Israeli leader's view of the "immunity zone."

Earlier, Mr. Obama declared that America's alliance with Israel is "eternal" and "forever" as he began his first visit to the Jewish state since taking office.

In an arrival ceremony at Ben Gurion airport Wednesday, Mr. Obama said he made Israel the first overseas stop of his second term because wants to "reaffirm the unbreakable bond between our nations."

He also said he wants to speak directly to the people of Israel and their neighbors about his belief that "peace must come to the holy land."

Mr. Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres welcomed the U.S. president at the airport. The prime minister thanked Mr. Obama for defending what both have called "Israel's right to defend itself, by itself, against any threat."

The U.S. president later met with Mr. Peres in Jerusalem after being serenaded by Israeli children waving the flags of both nations.

Mr. Obama said he benefited from the Israeli president's views on how to deal with turmoil in the Arab world, the perceived "perils of a nuclear-armed Iran" and the "imperatives" of peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

"I reaffirmed to President Peres, as I will throughout my visit, that in this work, the state of Israel will have no greater friend than the United States. And the work we do in our time will make it more likely that the children we saw today, alongside children throughout the region, have the opportunity for security and peace and prosperity."

Speaking alongside Mr. Obama, the Israeli president said both nations are trying to restart Israeli negotiations with the Palestinians.

"We have already agreed that the goal is a two-state-for-two-peoples solution. There is no better one, more achievable one. We consider that the president of the Palestinian Authority Abu Mazen is our partner in that effort to stop terror and bring peace."

At the airport, Mr. Netanyahu showed Mr. Obama a battery of Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system that Washington has helped to fund. Israel used the Iron Dome to shoot down hundreds of rockets fired by Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip during an eight-day conflict last November.

Mr. Obama and Mr. Netanyahu have cited the Iron Dome as an example of "unprecedented" security cooperation between their nations.

Mr. Obama is set to travel to the West Bank on Thursday to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

On Friday, his schedule includes talks with King Abdullah in Jordan, where the United States has been helping authorities to cope with a flood of refugees from the Syrian civil war.

In addition to the meetings, Mr. Obama is scheduled to visit a set of cultural and religious sites in the region, including seeing the Dead Sea Scrolls at the Israel Museum and a stop at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

Many Palestinians have said they are disappointed with Mr. Obama, and see little reason for optimism in his second term. There were scattered protests in the Palestinian territories on Wednesday ahead of Mr. Obama's arrival.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs