America’s “red line” regarding Iran is that Tehran does not attain nuclear weapons, US President Barack Obama said on Thursday.
The statement was a response to lobbying by Israel for the United States to set a clear ultimatum for Iran over its nuclear weapons program on pain of military action.
The US State Department earlier said it would not set a “red line,” setting off an angry response from Jerusalem.
In a television interview on the US-based Spanish-language station Telemundo, the president said the US and Israel share the belief that the Iranian nuclear threat is a serious one, which is why the sanctions on Tehran have been so heavy.
Obama said that he is ready to offer Iran a diplomatic path in order to bring the crisis to end, but he also emphasized that every option is still on the table.
Obama called a nuclear Iran a threat not only to Israel, but to the US and to the entire Middle East. He added that the intense concern displayed by Israel’s leadership was understandable, particularly in light of the recent rhetoric by the Iranian regime and their activities by proxy through Hezbollah.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he would protect Israel’s interests even if they ran up against those of close allies.
“It is my duty to uphold the vital interests of the State of Israel, to ensure its security and its future,” Netanyahu said. “I uphold these interests, not that it’s easy, because leadership is tested in upholding them even if there are disagreements with friends, even the best of friends.”
Both Israel and the US are publicly committed to preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons, yet there remain grave differences of opinion on if, and when, to use military force.
The US has rebuffed requests by Israel to set a firm ultimatum for Iran on pain of military action, saying there was still time for sanctions and diplomacy to work.
Sources in Jerusalem said Netanyahu would continue to seek clear “red lines,” beyond which a military strike would be launched, Israel Radio reported Wednesday evening.
On Tuesday, Netanyahu launched an unprecedentedly bitter attack on the US administration, saying countries that refused to set deadlines for Iran to give up its nuclear program have no justification for telling Israel to refrain from taking preemptive military action against the regime’s nuclear ambitions.
“The world tells Israel to wait, because there is still time. And I ask: Wait for what? Until when? Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel,” Netanyahu said.