News / Middle East

White House Faces Continuing Questions on Iran, Possible Israeli Action

The White House says the United States and Israel share the same goal of preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, and emphasizes the importance of allowing enough time for international sanctions to change the Iranian government's behavior.  

Amid the flurry of media reports ahead of next week's talks between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, two in particular were the subject of questions at Tuesday's White House news briefing.

An Associated Press report quoted what it called U.S. officials familiar with high level U.S.-Israel discussions as saying that Israel would not warn the United States if a decision is made to launch a preemptive military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities.

Press Secretary Jay Carney said he would not comment on discussions between U.S. and foreign officials, stressing the fact that Israel and the United States are fully engaged at every level.

When pressed again on the issue of prior notice of an Israeli attack on Iran, Carney said, "We have very close relationships with our Israeli counterparts.  We have deep engagement at every level.  But I wouldn't discuss speculative; I wouldn't answer speculative questions like that."

Whether Israel would provide advance notice has been among many questions in the intense media reporting ahead of next week's Obama-Netanyahu meeting.

Security studies specialist Colin Kahl of Georgetown University Colin Kahl, associate professor at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, says Israel has been sending signals for months that an attack on Iran is being contemplated.

Kahl says that, in some sense, is a "strategic warning."  But he adds that the question remains whether Israel would give the United States actual notice prior to launching an attack. "The only person that knows the answer to that question is Netanyahu.  But I think there is a concern that the Israelis wouldn't want the United States to discourage them from taking action at the last minute and therefore they may only give the United States a few hours notice," he said.

Top U.S. officials, including President Obama's national security adviser, have visited Israel in recent months to make the case that more time should be allowed for international sanctions against Iran to work.

Iran denies that its nuclear program has any military purpose, saying its uranium enrichment activities, which U.N. atomic inspectors say have reached unprecedented levels, are for peaceful civilian purposes.

Carney was asked about a report in The Wall Street Journal that says Mr. Obama is considering speaking in more specific terms about so-called "red lines" Iran should not cross.

The newspaper said this was linked to Israeli government complaints about public statements by some U.S. officials, including Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Army General Martin Dempsey, that Israeli leaders felt sent the wrong signals to Iran.

Responding to the report, Carney repeated President Obama's pledge that no options have been taken off the table regarding Iran, but he said the United States believes there is "time and space" for diplomacy and sanctions to work. "There is a road out of, or a path out of this dead end that Iran has been pursuing, which is to honor its international obligations, forsake its nuclear weapons ambitions and rejoin the international community by living up to its obligations," he said.

U.S. officials, including Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, have identified red lines for Iran as being a decision to develop a nuclear weapon along with any attempt to block the strategic Strait of Hormuz.

President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu are scheduled to speak at the annual conference of the largest pro-Israel lobby, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

Carney said Mr. Obama will discuss the Iran issue in his address to the organization on Sunday, the day before he welcomes the Israeli leader to the White House, but he offered no details of what the president intends to say.

You May Like

Photogallery Strong Words Start, May End, S. African Xenophobic Attacks

President Jacob Zuma publicly condemned rise in attacks on foreign nationals but critics say leadership has been less than welcoming to foreign residents More

Video Family Waits to Hear Charges Against Reporter Jailed in Iran

Reports in Iran say Jason Rezaian has been charged with espionage, but brother tells VOA indictment has not been made public More

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Action to Stabilize Libya

Amnesty International says multinational concerted humanitarian effort must be enacted to address crisis; decrepit boats continue to bring thousands of new arrivals daily More

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.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs