March 5th, 2012
03:00 AM ET

What Israel got from Obama

By Adam Levine

President Obama's speech on Sunday didn't go any further do explain where the red line is when it comes to Iran seeking nuclear weapon capability, but the speech did lay down the U.S. position clearly for the generally hawkish and conservative audience at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference on Sunday.

The president said the U.S. and Israel are on the same page in assessing that "Iran does not yet have a nuclear weapon," but the two countries do not necessarily agree on how close is too close

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"The question is, where the decision is made as to when the as to when the Iranians are actually acquiring it. The Israelis see them approaching the threshold of a nuclear weapons capability. And the Israeli point of view, they can't wait until they actually go to get a bomb whereas Obama with 5,000 nuclear weapons Continental United States, superpower, is in a more comfortable position, and then say, if we see the Iranians going for a bomb, that's when we'll act," former U.S. ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk said on CNN's State of the Union on Sunday.

Israeli journalist Ronen Bergman said there is "a strong likelihood" that Israel will strike Iran in 2012.  Bergman, the senior political and military analyst for Israel's most widely read newspaper, said in an interview broadcast Sunday on CNN's Fareed Zakarai GPS that his assessment was based on discussions with "many of the Israeli leaders and chiefs of the intelligence and the military."

"I have come to the conclusion that there is a strong likelihood that Israel will strike Iran during 2012, because Iran is getting too close to what was coined by Minister of Defense Ehud Barak as the zone of immunity," Bergman said on the show. "This is this specific point on the timeline, after which Iran nuclear sites are going to become immune to an Israeli strike."

"Iran is something like nine months away from entering this so-called zone of immunity," Bergman said.

Bergman said that covert actions that have delayed Iranian nuclear projects have "exceeded or exhausted their ability, and Iran is accelerating toward its ability to produce the first nuclear weapon device."

Iran has stepped up its enrichment program, according to the most recent report from inspectors who visited Iran in February.  But the increase was in volume of enriched uranium, there was no suggestion Iran had moved to further enrich to a level that would be useable in a nuclear weapon.

As far as the U.S. intelligence community is concerned, or at least willing to publicly say, Iran has yet to make the decision to go ahead and develop a nuclear weapon, though it has the capability to create one should it chose so.

As Obama looks to try to exhaust diplomatic possibilities before military ones, he did provide the AIPAC crowd with a clearer stance on his position on Iran. Below are some of the highlights:

Clarity on containment:  "Iran's leaders should understand that I do not have a policy of containment. I have a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon."

Military option: "I have said that when it comes to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, I will take no options off the table, and I mean what I say.  That includes all elements of American power: a political effort aimed at isolating Iran; a diplomatic effort to sustain our coalition and ensure that the Iranian program is monitored; an economic effort that imposes crippling sanctions; and, yes, a military effort to be prepared for any contingency."

"And as I've made clear time and again during the course of my presidency, I will not hesitate to use force when it is necessary to defend the United States and its interests."

Israel acting on its own: "They should not doubt Israel's sovereign right to make its own decisions about what is required to meet its security needs."

The place for diplomacy: "I firmly believe that an opportunity still remains for diplomacy, backed by pressure, to succeed."

"Iran's leaders still have the opportunity to make the right decision. They can choose a path that brings them back into the community of nations, or they can continue down a dead end.  And given their history, there are, of course, no guarantees that the Iranian regime will make the right choice. But both Israel and the United States have an interest in seeing this challenge resolved diplomatically."

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Filed under: Diplomacy • Intelligence • Iran • Israel • Middle East • Nuclear
soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. Louis Vuitton

    The hunt also involves the random picking of shoes that may end up on the floor or up under the rack. Louis Vuitton

    July 30, 2013 at 11:13 pm | Reply
  2. Kali

    Some might respond that the US onligraliy had a Constitution that discriminated against women and black people. But the difference here is that the US has moved to progressively over time to amend these inequities, while Israel is going in the opposite direction – it is increasingly enacting more and more openly anti-democratic legislation. That's a tremendous oversimplification of history. It was not a smooth journey to equality in the US. There has been both regression and progression. Neither decided whether or not the US was undemocratic. Unless you want to say that the US was not founded as a democracy and became one in the 20th century. The antidemocratic laws you're talking about in Israel are a red herring. Nadia fundamentally thinks that a Jewish state can never be democratic. In the most literal sense, she doesn't recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state. As such, the constitutional promise could never be realized, even if Arabs and Jews (I hesitate to use these non-mutually exclusive categories) had all of the same rights, as long as the flag was still a Jewish star.

    April 7, 2012 at 12:02 am | Reply
  3. proofreader

    as to when as to when. This stuff is far to important to be released with typos.

    March 11, 2012 at 6:02 am | Reply
  4. SteveHC

    Anybody who actually believes that a number of countries don't already have a joint plan re: Iran must be living on some other planet.

    March 6, 2012 at 8:15 pm | Reply
  5. Skorpio

    The survival of Israel is at stake. Netanyahu could be responsible for the extinction of the state of Israel if he takes the wrong decisions. No other leader along Israel' history had so much responsibility about the continuation of the Jewish state.

    March 6, 2012 at 10:31 am | Reply
  6. EblolaZaire

    Of course Obama won't set a redline. If he did then Iran would know the limits of our tolerance. After all why would a president want to let Iran know where the real danger zone lies? Of course,at some point he would have to act or admit he never intended to do anything.This way he can do what he does best, make vague promises. Once Iran actually has the bomb, which he figures will be after the election, then he will be able to throw Israel under the bus again. Very good politics but horrible statesmanship.

    March 6, 2012 at 8:58 am | Reply
    • SteveHC

      – It most definitely will not play out that way. Ever.

      March 6, 2012 at 8:13 pm | Reply
  7. Hans Wall

    Barck Obama is right in preferring diplomacy in dealing with Iran instead of the belligerent talk of Israel's leadership and the cheerleading clowns of the GOP presidential candidates – with the notable exception of Ron Paul. Contrary to what neocon war lovers say this confrontation with Iran has a high potential to hurt US interests if not handled carefully. E.g. a realistic course of action for Iran to retaliate for a military attack on its nuclear sites would probably include an attack on Saudi and other oil terminals in the area. I do not see them wasting their limited military capabilities on a futile attempt to close the strait of Hormuz. Also coordinated attacks on Nigerian, Kazakhstan, and Russian oil facilities by Islamist proxies could fit into this scenario that eliminates a couple of million barrels per day oil production and throws the US world economy into a death spiral.

    March 6, 2012 at 4:29 am | Reply
  8. Scott

    The US, Israel, and many other countries have legitimate concerns about the intentions of the Iranian government. I don't see any effort by Iran to seek a peaceful resolution. Turkey and Brazil sent their leaders to Iran a while ago to try and seek a diplomatic deal. Iran choose unwisely to ignore them. What is sad is Iran is a otherwise beautiful country ruled by a vile oligarchy intent on creating as much human misery as possible.

    March 5, 2012 at 10:09 pm | Reply
    • George Washington

      scott is not an american – she is a zionist propagadist.

      Americans don't want war and $6 a gallon gas – and for what? So a bunch of racist zionist thugs can steal more Arab lands.

      israel is our enemy!

      March 6, 2012 at 7:28 am | Reply
      • SteveHC

        – And YOU'RE a total nut-job. Nobody's paying any attention weirdo.

        March 6, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
      • dah

        Dear George Washington,

        That is sheer and utter dog poop. You are obviously a foreign troll. Why don't you return to your cave in wherever it is and leave dsicussion of this important issue to Americans who by a vast majority appreciate the role of Israel in the Middle East.

        March 22, 2012 at 3:08 am |
  9. Jannani

    Iran Air Flight 655 was a civilian jet airliner shot down by U.S. missiles on July 3, 1988, over the Strait of Hormuz, toward the end of the Iran–Iraq War. The aircraft, an Airbus A300B2-203 operated by Iran Air, was flying from Bandar Abbas, Iran, to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, over Iran's territorial waters in the Persian Gulf on its usual flight path when it was destroyed by the United States Navy guided missile cruiser USS Vincennes (CG-49), killing all 290 passengers and crew aboard,[1] ranking it twelfth among the deadliest disasters in aviation history.
    America is the root of all terror.

    March 5, 2012 at 9:47 pm | Reply
  10. Robert Whittingham

    Israel has every right to protect itself. I agree. IF Iran is attacked by a foreign nation, it has every right to protect itself.
    I agree.
    So if Israel strikes first then Iran has the right to defend itself. OK. Are the residents of Tel Aviv or another populated city ready for missiles to come raining down? If Israel strikes first the United States can do nothing and will do nothing.
    World opinion will have to be with Iran. Please Israel, think about it.

    March 5, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Reply
    • dah

      Bob Wittless. Please dream on.

      March 22, 2012 at 3:10 am | Reply
  11. tellitlikeittis

    If Israel cannot wait to see if the sanctions work and are so "trigger-happy", the U.S. should not get involved. Why are they always kissing Israel's boots anyway? The politicians and everyone so caters to Israel. Why???? The majority of the U.S. doesn't feel that way and they are bullies who has big brother (the U.S.) covering their a-s. You can see how they treat the Palestinians that they are incredibly overbearing and we give soooo much money to that rich country. Why? If they are big and bad enough to start a war with Iran, they should be prepared to fight it on their on and not use our men and women in the armed forces. I don't think America is ready to suffer more deaths because of big egoes. Enough alread!! We have an economy that is first and foremost more important. Besides, a lot of countries in the mideast has nuclear weapons.

    March 5, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Reply
    • briansynergychat

      Here's theory cut off part of USA in the southwest border and give it to Isreal. Move all Isrealis to this area to provide border security. Let the arabs have israels land. Stop all trade and defense of the saudis and other areas. Stop all aid to the middle east. Utilize natural gas, coal or whatever till green energy is more affordable. You then will see who the real friends of the USA are.

      June 5, 2013 at 4:59 pm | Reply
  12. Bruce Rubin

    Under the bus

    March 5, 2012 at 11:12 am | Reply
    • Jonathan Pollard zionist born American Traitor

      Rubin is a idf terrorist – her existence is why the whole world hates israel.

      March 5, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Reply
      • Dave

        Your English is terrible and your rants are pointless. Go back to crying on MySpace with the other 13-year-olds or write a book in whatever language you actually speak.

        And if you're going to label all zionists as "Nazi racists," then maybe you shouldn't be using such prejudiced rhetoric as "queer" to make your point.

        March 5, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
  13. michaelfury

    "They should not doubt Israel's sovereign right to make its own decisions about what is required to meet its security needs."

    Besides, what's a little false-flag terror between friends? Right, Mr. President?

    March 5, 2012 at 7:30 am | Reply
  14. Jonathan Pollard zionist born American Traitor Learned it ALL from Obama

    I am Jonathan Pollard and I am a coward. I am also a American born zionist who was found guilty of spying for the dirty evil zionists in israel.

    I am in jail now, but I will soon be free when Bebe orders Obama set me free next year. I can't wait. I'll be a millionaire when I arrive in israel as a hero for betraying America. The military secrets I handed over to the dirty evil zionists in racist israel was used to kill innocent people plus my zionist masters in racist israel sold the millitary information to the
    chinese. I'll spend all the money you dumb jerk-offs in America give israel – I'll be getting a cut of it.

    I'll be free and whoever said spying doesn't pay is flat wrong. spying is a good thing if you are a zionist spy in America. Here they let you go if you are a zionist spy.

    Yipppppeeee, i am a hero in israel. I'll be getting lots of zionist-bootie – both men and women – since I am, like most zionists, a queer. Yeah, we queer zionists own you dumb americans.

    March 5, 2012 at 7:07 am | Reply
    • Bruce Rubin

      Move out of your mother basement and see a shrink

      March 5, 2012 at 11:13 am | Reply
      • Jonathan Pollard zionist born American Traitor Learned it ALL from Obama

        Rubin means the same as zionist propagandist, right? And if you don't like my post, then it only means you're a zionist murderer, probably living in the home or on the property of some Arab family you had a hand in killing or terrorizing, right?

        If you were an American Patriot, you would agree with me.

        How many Palestinians have you murdered today in Gaza?

        zionism = racism and zionism is the new NAZISM of the 21st century – plus, zionists don't bath – such a disgusting people. Their language sounds like gutter-hissing smake talk. YUK!

        Ain't that right, bruce blabbling rubin?

        March 5, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
      • Jonathan Pollard zionist born American Traitor

        Rubin means the same as zionist propagandist, right? And if you don't like my post, then it only means you're a zionist murderer, probably living in the home or on the property of some Arab family you had a hand in killing or terrorizing, right?

        If you were an American Patriot, you would agree with me.

        How many Palestinians have you murdered today in Gaza?

        zionism = racism and zionism is the new NAZISM of the 21st century – plus, zionists don't bath – such a disgusting people. Their language sounds like gutter-hissing smake talk. YUK!

        Ain't that right, bruce blabbling rubin?

        March 5, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
  15. Tactical Conflict Management Solutions

    Perry Nigger Hunting Lodge, Two months notice inside the SS security quadrant in Darwin before it goes up.. it was a sweet shot. It takes time to set up a cover and a safe house from the hide, cultivate an asset, which will be cut up and hermetically sealed in a freezer, you need about two months. Someone could have taken the shot, sadly as with Davis I was arrested and had prior engagements with the courts.

    Anyway. $1500 merchant ship to Latin America slip across that thing you call a border etc, etc, Darwin.

    I am more than happy to sit here on my pension, drinking beer and lifting weights.

    Misunderstandings are dangerous.

    I tell you what you don't bluff, so do something boy, send someone, boy. Send one for your errand boys, Kafa.

    You can keep sending them and I will keep cutting them up into pieces. You have to send someone now Kafa.

    Matthew Johnston
    13 Radiata Rd Highbury Adelaide, South Australia, Australia.

    I just called your bluff.

    March 5, 2012 at 6:44 am | Reply
  16. Tactical Conflict Management Solutions

    Allahu Akbar
    Why do you think Putin and I have hidden first born.
    5 years old...
    F**k off.,c**t

    March 5, 2012 at 5:52 am | Reply
  17. Tactical Conflict Management Solutions

    There is nothing I will not do for my country, even if that means protecting what in my humble opinion is al-Qaida sleeper. If it is in the best interest of my country at that point in time.

    March 5, 2012 at 5:19 am | Reply
  18. Tactical Conflict Management Solutions

    Nothing, you took my AEGIS away.

    I aint got your back no more bro, who knocked Haider.

    Who fronted the right wing extremists.

    Me, to my own personal safety.

    March 5, 2012 at 5:09 am | Reply

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