Obama: Military option against Iran not a "bluff"

Ahead of a meeting next week with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Obama is stressing that when he says "all options are on the table" when it comes to keeping Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, he means it.

(Credit: AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

(CBS) -- Ahead of a meeting next week with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Obama is stressing that when he says "all options are on the table" when it comes to keeping Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, he means it.

"I think that the Israeli government recognizes that, as president of the United States, I don't bluff," Mr. Obama said in an interview with the Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg.

"I also don't, as a matter of sound policy, go around advertising exactly what our intentions are," Mr. Obama continued. "But I think both the Iranian and the Israeli governments recognize that when the United States says it is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon, we mean what we say."

When Mr. Obama meets with Netanyahu on Monday in the Oval Office, Iran's nuclear ambitions will be at the top of their agenda. The meeting comes amid reports of disagreement between the United States and Israel over how long it is possible to wait before sending warplanes to try to cripple Iran's nuclear program.

Mr. Obama told Goldberg that "preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon isn't just in the interest of Israel, it is profoundly in the security interests of the United States" and that a nuclear-armed Iran is not "tolerable."

"The dangers of an Iran getting nuclear weapons that then leads to a free-for-all in the Middle East is something that I think would be very dangerous for the world," he said.

That said, the president insisted that the economic sanctions his administration has put in place against Iran have left the country in a "world of hurt" and that there's no rush to resort to military action.

"Our assessment, which is shared by the Israelis, is that Iran does not yet have a nuclear weapon and is not yet in a position to obtain a nuclear weapon without us having a pretty long lead time in which we will know that they are making that attempt," he said.

Meanwhile, at a New York campaign fundraising event on Thursday night, the president had to convince some of his supporters that he's not rushing to war.

At ABC Carpet & Home in New York City, Mr. Obama addressed a crowd of about 900 supporters, mostly 20- and 30-somethings who paid at least $1,000 to attend. As he was talking about foreign policy, a woman yelled out, "Use your leadership! No war in Iran!"

Mr. Obama responded, smiling: "Nobody's announced a war, young lady. You're jumping the gun a little bit."

At the event, Mr. Obama also said the U.S. has a "sacrosanct commitment" to Israel's security."


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