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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

US Urges Restraint in Hong Kong Protests

Protesters angered by Beijing's decision to only approve candidates that it sanctions for Hong Kong's leadership elections in 2017 More

Archive of Forgotten UCLA Speeches Offers Snapshot of History

Recordings of prominent voices in social change, politics, science and literature from 1960s, early 1970s now available on YouTube 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.
Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenyai
X
Gabe Joselow
September 29, 2014 6:20 PM
Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Video

Video Reconstruction? What Reconstruction? Life After War in Gaza

It’s been a month since Israel and the Palestinians agreed to a ceasefire to end 52 days of an air and tank war that left 60,000 homes in Gaza damaged or destroyed and 110,000 homeless. Sharon Behn reports that lack of reconstruction is leading to despair.
Video

Video US, Saudi Arabia and UAE Hit Islamic State's Oil Revenue

The United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have bombed oil facilities operated by Islamic State militants in Syria. It was a truly collaborative effort, with the two Arab countries dropping the majority of the bombs. The 12 refineries targeted were estimated to generate as much as $2 million per day for the terrorist group. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb has the story.
Video

Video Russia's Food Sanctions Raise Price Worries, Hopes for Domestic Production

Russia retaliated against Western sanctions imposed for its actions in Ukraine by halting food imports from the West. The temporary import ban on food from Australia, the European Union, Norway and North America has Russian consumers concerned that they could face a sharp increase in food prices. But in an ironic twist, the restrictions aimed at the Kremlin have made Russia's domestic food producers hopeful this can boost their business. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Washington to Pyongyang: 'Shut This Evil System Down'

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on North Korea to shut down prison camps and other human rights abuses following a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into "widespread and systematic human rights violations." VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid