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U.S. President Barack Obama (R) meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office at the White House on March 5, 2012 in Washington, DC.
Israel's amplified rhetoric towards Iran will be the focus of a White House discussion between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. On Friday, Obama warned he is not bluffing about military repercussions if Iran builds a nuclear weapon, but also cautioned against premature attacks by Israel.
The president sat down for an extensive interview on the matter with The Atlantic magazine. "[W]hat I've emphasized is 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 when I say we're not taking any option off the table, we mean it," he told The Atlantic.
Obama added the context of wider geopolitical considerations, namely Syria: "[A]t a time when there is not a lot of sympathy for Iran and its only real ally [Syria] is on the ropes, do we want a distraction in which suddenly Iran can portray itself as a victim, and deflect attention from what has to be the core issue, which is their potential pursuit of nuclear weapons?"
There is no clear evidence Iran's leadership has made real strides in developing nuclear capability, but how far along could Iran be? At what point does it represent a threat to Israel? Is Netanyahu posturing to ensure sanctions against Iran remain in place? What could be the positive and negative consequences of continued sanctions for Iranians?
David Siegel, Israel’s Consul General for the southwestern United States
Abbas Milani, Director of Iranian studies at Stanford University; Co-Director of the Iran Democracy Project at the Hoover Institution in Palo Alto