President Barack Obama has said the United States has significant capabilities to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, and he was keeping all options on the table.
“We think that it would take over a year or so for Iran to actually develop a nuclear weapon but obviously we don’t want to cut it too close,” Obama said in an interview with Israel’s Channel 2 television, aired on Thursday before a visit due next week.
“What I’m consulting with (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu), as I have over the last several years on this issue, my message to him will be the same as before. If we can resolve it diplomatically that’s a more lasting solution, but if not I continue to keep all options on the table,” he said.
Iran denies it is seeking a bomb and says its nuclear programme is solely for peaceful purposes.
Obama’s first presidential visit to Israel comes at the onset of spring - the “red line” previously set by Netanyahu for attacking Iran’s nuclear sites. Netanyahu has called on the United States to set a similar deadline.
Asked if he would order an attack on Iran should diplomacy fail, Obama said: “When I say that all options are on the table, all options are on the table.
“The United States obviously has significant capabilities but our goal here is to make sure that Iran does not possess a nuclear weapon that could threaten Israel or could trigger an arms race in the region.”