US will not stand back and allow Iran to build nuclear weapon, says Barack Obama

 

Jerusalem

Iran is at least a year away from successfully developing a nuclear weapon, according to Barack Obama who last night told Israeli television that the US would not stand back and allow Tehran to acquire such a weapon.

Speaking just days before his first state visit to Israel as president, Mr Obama said he had always been clear - that Washington will not allow Iran to become a nuclear power.

“I have been crystal clear about my position on Iran possessing a nuclear weapon. That is a red line for us. It is not only something that would be dangerous for Israel. It would be dangerous for the world,” Mr Obama told Israel’s Channel 2 News.

“...I've also said there is a window, not an infinite period time, but a window of time - where we can resolve this diplomatically.”

Mr Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, differ on Iran’s ambitions with the Americans yet to be convinced that Tehran actually wants to develop a nuclear weapon. The Iranians deny any plans to make a bomb and that its nuclear programme is designed for peaceful means.

The issue is just one that has the potential to antagonise the two leaders during Mr Obama’s three-day visit next week. Mr Obama appeared to try and smooth the historically icy relations between himself and Mr Netanyahu during the interview, referring to the Israeli prime minister by his nickname, ‘Bibi’, no fewer than 10 times during the interview.

Officials on both sides claim that the gulf between the two men over the Iranian nuclear issue is narrowing. Israelis claim that Mr Obama is shifting towards their view that diplomatic efforts, particular sanctions imposed on Tehran, are likely to fail. However, the two sides are still apart on the likely response. The Israelis want the Americans to lead any military action, while Washington is extremely reluctant to commit to yet another military adventure in the region.

Mr Obama arrives in Israel on Wednesday and will visit Jerusalem and Bethlehem, in the occupied West Bank. It is still unclear whether he will visit the Palestinian Authority’s administrative capital, Ramallah, before he leaves next Friday.

As part of the wide ranging Channel 2 interview, Mr Obama also said that he wished he could visit the coastal city of Tel Aviv in disguise. “Sometimes I have this fantasy that I can put on a disguise, wear a fake moustache and I can wander through Tel Aviv and go to a bar and have a conversation,” he said.

“I’d love to sit at a cafe and just hang out. The last time I was there as a senator, I still had the option of wandering through the Old City of Jerusalem. That option becomes much trickier once you’re actually president. You can’t just slip out and interact with people without having a bunch of guys with machine guns with you.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established managed services IT...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Advisor is r...

Recruitment Genius: Plant Fitter - Construction Industry

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This well established construction equipment d...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitm...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003