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Obama: Force Still an Option on Iran

Despite Syria deal, “the threat... against Israel, that a nuclear Iran poses, is much closer to our core interests.”
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 9/15/2013, 6:54 PM

Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Flash 90

United States President Barack Obama declared in a weekend interview that the US is still prepared to act militarily to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons, despite the decision to hold back on striking Syria over its alleged use of chemical weapons.

Obama spoke in interview broadcast Sunday on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” taped Friday before the United States and Russia agreed on a plan to bring Syrian chemical weapons under international control.

He said Iran should not interpret the adoption of the diplomatic course vis-a-vis Syria as showing that the US wouldn’t attack Iran to stop the development of nuclear weapons.

“I think what the Iranians understand is that the nuclear issue is a far larger issue for us than the chemical weapons issue, that the threat... against Israel, that a nuclear Iran poses, is much closer to our core interests,” Obama said.

“My suspicion is that the Iranians recognize they shouldn’t draw a lesson that we haven’t struck [Syria] to think we won’t strike Iran.”

Obama also said, however, that what the Iranians should learn from this episode is that it is possible to resolve this type of disagreement diplomatically.

“My view is that if you have both a credible threat of force, combined with a rigorous diplomatic effort, that, in fact you can strike a deal,” he said. He confirmed that he had communicated with new Iranian President Hasan Rouhani by letter.