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Obama, on Iran, says, ‘I don’t bluff’
Ahead of a visit by Israel's prime minister, US President Barack Obama used his sharpest language yet to warn Iran of his willingness to resort to military options if necessary to prevent Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
March 4, 2012 10:49 by Reuters
Saying that it would be unacceptable for Iran to build an atomic weapon, Obama said: “I don’t bluff.”
“I think both the Iranian and the Israeli governments recognize that when the United States says it is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon, we mean what we say,” Obama said in an interview with the Atlantic magazine.
The interview was conducted on Monday and published on Friday.
The comments came just days before Obama is to host Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for talks at the White House.
Monday’s meeting between the two leaders will come amid US fears that Israel might attack Iran’s nuclear sites within coming months unless it receives stronger reassurances from Washington that the United States is willing to take a tough approach toward Tehran.
In the interview, Obama said he thought that international sanctions on Iran were “far more effective than anybody anticipated” and he believed they offered a chance to solve the problem in a permanent way.
But he said if the sanctions efforts failed, the United States was not taking any options off the table. He added that it was in the “profound” interests of not only Israel but also of the United States that Iran not be allowed to acquire a nuclear weapon.
Pressed on what has been awkward relationship with Netanyahu so far, Obama said the two leaders had cooperated closely on a number of issues but acknowledged that they had more of a business-like relationship than a close personal rapport.
“I actually think the relationship is very functional, and the proof of the pudding is in the eating,” Obama said. “You know, the truth of the matter is, both of us have so much on our plates that there’s not always a lot of time to have discussions beyond business.” (Reporting By Caren Bohan; Editing by Vicki Allen)