AP: Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama pledged Monday that he would step up diplomatic pressure to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons before Israel feels that "its back is against the wall" and might take military action.
The Associated Press
By BETH FOUHY
DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) — Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama pledged Monday that he would step up diplomatic pressure to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons before Israel feels that "its back is against the wall" and might take military action.
Campaigning In Iowa on his way to the Democratic convention in Denver, Obama was asked about rumors that Israel had a "green lighted" an attack on Iran before the presidential election in November. Obama refused to comment on the rumors but acknowledged that Israel feels threatened.
"I will tell you having visited Israel just a month and a half ago, their general attitude is, 'We will not allow Iran to get a nuclear weapon,'" Obama said. "My job as president would be to try to make sure we are tightening the screws diplomatically on Iran, that we mobilize the world community to go after Iran's nuclear program in a serious way. … We have to do it before Israel feels its back is against the wall."
Obama was referring to the possibility that Israel might try to destroy one or more of Iran's known nuclear facilities out of fear that any weapon that emerged would be used against the Jewish state. Israel would presumably launch an air strike only as a last resort and after the United States had decided against launching its own action. President Bush has always left a military option on the table but there is little time and less political support for a unilateral U.S. strike before Bush leaves office.
Iran denies it is seeking a bomb and insists it has the right to develop nuclear expertise to produce energy. Iran has all but ignored punitive sanctions levied by the United Nations, the United States and Europe and rapidly increased the pace of its nuclear development.
The Bush administration reversed course two years ago and agreed to join European diplomatic talks with Iran that are meant to roll back its nuclear program. Iran refused to meet a precondition that it shelve its enrichment of uranium during talks, and the U.S. offer went nowhere. Obama has said he would meet Iran's leaders for talks without precondition if he determined it would help.
Associated Press Writer Anne Gearan contributed to this report from Washington.