Washington, March 5 – President Barack Obama held crucial talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Monday with both leaders stressing they would do whatever was necessary to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
In brief remarks to the media before their White House meeting,Obama said once again that all options were on the table to stop Iran’s illegal push for nuclear arms.
Obama told Netanyahu there is "still a window" for diplomacy to stop Iran from pursuing its nuclear program and that he is weighing the “costs of any military action"
Netanyahu, meanwhile, told his counterpart that “Israel must be the master of its fate.” It was a strong signal that he would act unilaterally if he felt that Iran was about to cross a red line that put Israel’s very existence in danger.
Iran’s leaders deny the Holocaust and have frequently vowed to destroy Israel. They have been pursuing nuclear weapons for many years in a secret program in defiance of four United Nations resolutions. Even the tough sanctions now being imposed on Iran have not deterred it from pushing ahead to the point that many experts now believe it is a year or less away from building a bomb.
Iran is also identified by the United States and the European Union as a state sponsor of terrorism, and it was linked to plots last month to bomb Israeli targets in India, Thailand and Georgia.
Obama met Netanyahu a day after addressing the annual gathering of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in which he said:
“Iran’s leaders should have no doubt about the resolve of the United States, just as they should not doubt Israel’s sovereign right to make its own decisions about what is required to meet its security needs.
“Iran’s leaders should know that I do not have a policy of containment; I have a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. I will not hesitate to use force when it is necessary to defend the United States and its interests.”
Netanyahu, who is is scheduled to speak Monday evening to the 13,000-plus attendees at the AIPAC policy conference, praised Obama’s comments Sunday.
"I appreciate the fact that he repeated his position that Iran should not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons and that all options are on the table,” Netanyahu said. “I also appreciate the fact that he said that on the Iranian issue, containment is not an option. But most of all, I appreciate that he said that Israel must be able to defend itself against any threat.”
Iranian officials last month barred International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors from visiting Parchin, believed to be a key nuclear installation. A recent report on Iran’s nuclear program found that Iran is moving more quickly toward obtaining a nuclear weapon and disregarding the international community’s demands.
The United States and the European Union recently approved sanctions against Iran and are discussing additional measures.