Ready with all options on Iran: Obama

Obama said the US has a "very good estimate" of when Iran could complete work on a nuclear weapon.

Washington: Pointing out that US has "pretty
good bead" on Iran`s nuclear programme, President Barack Obama
on Monday said Washington is ready with all options, including
military, against threats coming from Tehran but would prefer
to have it resolved diplomatically.

"My goal is to try to resolve this diplomatically, mainly
because the only way, over the long term, we can assure Iran
doesn`t get a nuclear weapon is by getting them to understand
it`s not in their interest," Obama told the NBC news in an

In the interview taken yesterday, but aired today, Obama
said the US, however, is ready with all the other options if
need be.

But, did not give details of the military preparations in
this regard.

"I`m not going to discuss specific military programmes or
go into details in terms of what our planning is.

"I will say this, that we have done extensive planning
over the last several years about all our various options in
the Gulf. And, you know, we are prepared to exercise these
options, should the need arise," he said.

"Do we know all of the dynamics inside of Iran? Absolutely not," Obama said. "Iran itself is a lot more divided now than it was. Knowing who is making decisions at any given time inside of Iran is tough."

Obama said that while he believes the standoff with Iran over its nuclear program can still be resolved through diplomacy, the US has done extensive planning on a range of options.

"We are prepared to exercise these options should they arise," Obama said during an interview with NBC that aired on the "Today" show.

Obama`s comments come amid increased tensions in the Middle East and elsewhere over the prospect that Israel, a key US ally, could soon launch a unilateral strike against Iran. Fearing that such a step could trigger a broader war and disrupt the international economy, the US and other western nations are scrambling to try to persuade Israel against a strike.

On Sunday, Obama said the US was working in "lockstep" with Israel and did not believe Israel has decided whether to attack Iran, and said he hopes the standoff can be resolved diplomatically.

"I don`t think that Israel has made a decision on what they need to do," Obama said during an interview with NBC.

Iran insists its nuclear pursuits are for peaceful civilian purposes, not a bomb.

Iran`s regime says it wants to extinguish the Jewish state, and the West accuses it of assembling the material and know-how to build a nuclear bomb. Just last week, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta would not dispute a report that he believes Israel may attack Iran this spring in an attempt to set back its nuclear program.

Obama refused to say whether the United States would get notice from Israel before any potential strike on Iran.

"I will say that we have closer military and intelligence consultation between our two countries than we`ve ever had," Obama said, adding, "We are going to be sure that we work in lockstep as we proceed to try to solve this — hopefully diplomatically."

The United States is leading that persuasion initiative, even though Washington largely has concluded that outside argument will have little effect on Israeli decision-making.

"Any kind of additional military activity inside the Gulf is disruptive and has a big effect on us," Obama said. "It could have a big effect on oil prices. We`ve still got troops in Afghanistan, which borders Iran."

As for the danger of retaliation by Iran against the United States, Obama said, "We don`t see any evidence that they have those intentions or capabilities right now."

Bureau Report