US president warns against first strike on Iran

The US President, Barack Obama, says he is not bluffing about taking military action against Iran if it develops a nuclear weapon. [AFP]
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The US President, Barack Obama, says he is not bluffing about taking military action against Iran if it develops a nuclear weapon. [AFP]

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Obama not bluffing on Iran nuclear program

Created: 03/03/2012

Craig McMurtrie, North America correspondent

Last Updated: Sat, 3 Mar 2012 14:53:00 +1100

The US President, Barack Obama, has warned against a premature military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities ahead of crucial talks in Washington with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In an interview with The Atlantic Magazine, Mr Obama signals that he will press the Israeli leader to postpone any Israeli plan for a unilateral strike at Iran's nuclear facilities.

Mr Netanyahu is in Canada ahead of talks next week at the White House.

Mr Obama says a premature attack could allow Iran to portray itself as a victim.

"At a time when there is not a lot of sympathy for Iran and its only real ally (Syria) is on the ropes, do we want a distraction in which suddenly Iran can portray itself as a victim?" he told the magazine.

At the same time, he also says it is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon and he says he is prepared to take military action if necessary.

"I think that the Israeli Government recognises that as president of the United States, I don't bluff," he told the magazine.

"I also don't, as a matter of sound policy, go around advertising exactly what our intentions are.

"But I think both the Iranian and the Israeli governments recognise that when the United States says it is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon, we mean what we say."

Mr Netanyahu told reporters that time was running out to stop Iran acquiring nuclear weapons.

"It's important that the international community stop this," he said.

The Israeli leader said he would not set red lines for military action against Iran, but will reserve his country's right to manoeuvre in light of threats.

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