US reserves right to take military action against Iran: Obama to Netanyahu
Zee Media Bureau
Washington: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with US President Barack Obama on Monday evening and opposite to the speculations the much awaited meet turned into a smooth-encounter.
During the meet, on Israeli PM’s request to keep sanctions in place against Iran, President Obama promised Netanyahu that the United States would be ‘clear eyed’ in talks with Iran but that it had to ‘test’ prospects for a breakthrough, though reserved the right to take military action against nuclear installations in Iran if diplomacy failed.
Netanyahu even urged to Obama to tighten Iran if Tehran continues its nuclear advances during a coming round of negotiations with the West.
Seeking to ease Israeli concerns about US diplomatic engagement with Iran, Obama said Tehran must prove its sincerity with actions, not just words, and vowed to keep all options on the table, including the possibility of a military response.
Netanyahu also issued a warning that Iran must dismantle its "military nuclear program" as a condition for a diplomatic breakthrough that would head off the prospect of military action.
Netanyahu told President Barack Obama in White House talks that such a step was Israel`s "bottom line" as hopes rise of a deal to end the nuclear showdown between Washington, world powers and Tehran.
Netanyahu warned that Iran was committed to Israel`s destruction and that its words and actions should be judged with that in mind.
"The bottom line is that Iran fully dismantles its military nuclear program," he said after over an hour of talks with Obama in the Oval Office.
Netanyahu also argued that economic sanctions must be kept in force through any diplomatic process with Iran, which will resume next month in Geneva.
"Those pressures must be kept in place," he said.
"In fact, if Iran continues to advance its nuclear program during negotiations, the sanctions should be strengthened."
Obama credited the economic sanctions that have hammered Iran`s economy with prompting its leaders to try a more serious diplomatic process on the nuclear program, following his telephone call on Friday with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
"We have to test diplomacy, we have to see if in fact they are serious about their willingness to abide by international norms and international law," Obama said.
"We enter into these negotiations very clear eyed. They will not be easy."
Obama also made clear that he reserved the right to take military action against Iran.
"We take no options off the table, including military options," Obama said.
Israeli President Peres: All options open on Iran
Earlier, Israeli President Shimon Peres had also said that "all options" are being kept open in forcing Iran to give up its nuclear programme, which Iran says is for peaceful purposes but Israel and others believe is aimed at building nuclear arms.
He added that the economic sanctions against Iran now have not dissuaded the country from enriching uranium or building long-range missiles, although it may have affected Tehran`s public statements.
Peres had said it would be better if sanctions did stop Iran from being "a center of terror, but all options are otherwise being kept."
"The Syrians were forced this time by an agreement between the United States and Russia to give up their chemical arsenal. They didn`t do it before the world threatened them with the military option," he had said.
Peres spoke at the Peace Palace in The Hague after meeting with judges at the International Court of Justice, sometimes called the World Court, today.
The ICJ ruled in 2004 in a nonbinding advisory opinion that Israel`s security barrier violated international law. Israel rejected the opinion.
Asked whether Israel would be willing to join the Organization for the Prohibition for Chemical Weapons as Syria is now doing, Peres said his government, which is widely believed to possess chemical weapons, "will consider" it.
Israel has signed but not ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention, which forbids the production, stockpiling or use of chemical weapons and automatically leads to membership in the OPCW.
After Syria`s agreement last week to join the organization, only Israel, Egypt, North Korea, Burma, Angola and South Sudan are not members.
On Friday, the UN Security Council ordered the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to help Syria destroy its chemical weapons by mid-2014.
With AFP inputs
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