October 22, 2020

Obama makes case against striking Iran now

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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama says he doesn’t want war but insists he would attack Iran if that was the only option left to stop that nation from getting a nuclear weapon.

“Loose talk of war” only plays into Iran’s hands, Obama said Sunday. On Monday, he will try to persuade Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to slow quickening pressure among many in his hawkish government to attack Iran’s disputed nuclear development sites. Obama is trying to avert an Israeli strike that could come this spring, and which the United States sees as dangerously premature.

The president is expected to tell Netanyahu in private at the White House that although the U.S. is committed to Israel’s security it does not want to be dragged into another war. Obama is unlikely to spell out U.S. “red lines” that would trigger a military response, despite Israeli pressure to do so.

U.S. officials believe that while Tehran has the capability to build a nuclear weapon, it has not yet decided to do so. They want to give sanctions time to pressure Iran to give up any military nuclear ambitions. Israel says the threat is too great to wait and many officials there are advocating a pre-emptive strike.

Obama did not directly call on Israel to stand down, and made a point of saying Israel should always have the right to defend itself as it sees fit.

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