News

Obama: Window Remains for Peaceful Solution to Iran Nuclear Issue

U.S. President Barack Obama meets with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, March 5, 2012
U.S. President Barack Obama meets with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, March 5, 2012

President Barack Obama says he believes there is still time to achieve a peaceful solution to the Iran nuclear issue, but that Iran's leaders need to make a decision to forsake pursuit of nuclear weapons. Mr. Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed Iran, troubled Israel-Palestinian peace efforts, and the Arab Spring during a meeting at the White House.   

It was their first face to face meeting since May of last year, when developments in the Arab Spring dominated the world's attention, along with frustrations in the Israel-Palestinian peace process.

The main issue in Monday's discussions was Iran's nuclear program and how much time remains for diplomacy and sanctions to turn Iran away from what the U.S. and Israel believe is a course toward developing a nuclear weapon.

In remarks to reporters before the talks, President Obama said it is unacceptable "for Israel to have a country with a nuclear weapon that has called for its destruction."

Describing the U.S. commitment to Israel's security as "rock solid," Mr. Obama reiterated his view that more time is needed for sanctions and other pressure on Iran to work.

"We do believe that there is still a window that allows for a diplomatic resolution to this issue, but ultimately the Iranian regime has to make a decision to move in that direction, a decision that they have not made thus far," said the president.

Mr. Obama said dangers of a nuclear-armed Iran include a possible nuclear arms race in the region, a nuclear weapon falling into the hands of terrorists, or a regime that has been a state sponsor of terrorism "feeling it can act even more aggressively or with impunity as a consequence of its nuclear power."

Pressure on Iran will be tightened, he said, adding he reserves all options. Mr. Obama repeated that his policy is not containment, but prevention of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons.

There was no direct mention of so-called "red lines," steps by Iran, such as specific movement toward building a nuclear weapon, that might trigger military action by Israel or the United States.

But Prime Minister Netanyahu stressed what he called longstanding principles in the U.S.-Israel relationship, including recognition that Israel has a right to act on its own to preserve its security.

"Israel must have the ability always to defend itself by itself, against any threat, and that when it comes to Israel's security, Israel has the right, the sovereign right, to make its own decisions," said Netanyahu. "I believe that is why you appreciate, Mr. President, that Israel must reserve right to defend itself."

Mr. Netanyahu said his "supreme responsibility" is to ensure that "Israel remains the master of its fate."

President Obama said he and Prime Minister Netanyahu prefer to resolve the issue diplomatically, understanding the costs of any military action.

Offering what he called an "assurance" to the American and Israeli peoples, he said the U.S. and Israel will be in "close, constant consultation" during what he said he expects will be "a series of difficult months, I suspect, in 2012."

The talks came as the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency said his agency has "serious concerns" about possible military dimensions of Iran's nuclear program.

President Obama also mentioned what he called "incredible" changes in the Middle East and North Africa, "terrible bloodshed" in Syria, and democratic transition in Egypt. Israel, he said, remains an island of democracy in the midst of all of this.

Mr. Obama said he would discuss with Mr. Netanyahu how to "potentially bring about a calmer set of discussions" between Israelis and Palestinians for a peaceful solution of their conflict, something he said the Israeli leader remains committed to achieving.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs