Expectations that the meeting between US President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Monday, March 5, will produce accord on how and when to stop Iran going nuclear are likely to prove unfounded, say DEBKAfile’s military and Washington sources. Obama has made it clear that a military strike would be “premature” and economic sanctions, diplomatic pressure and negotiations must be allowed to run their course before a military option is considered as a last resort.When Netanyahu flies home, therefore, he will come away from the White House facing exactly the same dilemma as before: It is up to him to determine Israel’s window of opportunity for an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities and decide if and when to go through with it.
A number of confidential Russian messages advised Israel to forget any reversals of Iran’s nuclear progress. The coming international negotiations, they said, must start with accepting the current status of Iran’s nuclear program, “There’s no turning back.”
The Israeli prime minister’s proposal was rejected by the White House after Moscow too found it unacceptable.
The White House message to Netanyahu on the eve of his meeting with Obama was that Tehran would simply not come to the negotiating table if faced with those three demands.By reverting to its long-abandoned attitude of denial on the Iranian nuclear threat, Washington flies in the face of the last two International Atomic Energy Agency quarterly reports.The report also pointed out that “Iran is shifting the most sensitive aspect of its nuclear work, refining uranium to a level that takes it significantly closer to potential bomb material, to the site.”The Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak has warned that Iran was in the process of moving clandestine nuclear projects to a “zone of immunity” safe from outside attack.Even before hearing what Israel had to say, Obama was resolved to oppose military action on Iran and not be moved on this. Now he is additionally determined to put his Israeli visitor in his place and draw a line on Jerusalem’s influence in Washington - both as a lesson to Jerusalem and an incentive for Tehran.
Like teenagers dating, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama are sending messages about one another to each other through emissaries before their big rendezvous.Obama chose Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic monthly, andNetanyahu chose a press conference standing alongside rock-solid ally Stephen Harper, the prime minister of Canada.To Goldberg, in an interview that appeared Friday, Obama talked for the first time explicitly about a “military component” in the options that are on the proverbial table. In recent weeks Israel made clear it would like to see and hear more specificity from he US about those options on the table, to ensure that Iran gets the message.But at the same time, Obama also warned in his interview of any preemptive Israeli strike at this time, advising Israel to see how things play out.
In his speech to AIPAC on Sunday, Obama added two points: the first, that Israel is responsible for its own security, and can make its own decisions. And second, that all the bellicose comments about war only helps the Iranians, since it hikes up oil price, which assists the Iranians.Another significant element of Netanyahu’s comments was that they were made in Ottawa, not in Washington. The reason for this is that the terms Netanyahu laid down have not yet been accepted by Obama. This is now Netanyahu’s policy, but not necessarily Obama’s, and Netanyahu wanted to get the terms out there before traveling to Washington, to give them time to percolate, and not to deliver a policy position in the US that might be at odds with that of the president.
"I do not have a policy of containment; I have a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon," he declared to another standing ovation. "I will not hesitate to use force when it is necessary to defend the United States and its interests."
But he also emphasized that, "I firmly believe that an opportunity still remains for diplomacy, backed by pressure, to succeed."
Differences over how much time to give diplomacy and what conditions must be imposed on Iran in any talks are one of the main points Obama will address with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu with whom he will meet during the day tomorrow. Netanyahu himself will address AIPAC Monday evening.
High-level meetings between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu are set for Monday at the White House. This could be the last face-to-face meetings between the two leaders before Netanyahu makes his final decision whether to go it alone on Iran.notes an important new article by Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic. “Obama will argue that under his leadership, the United States “has Israel’s back,” and that he will order the U.S. military to destroy Iran’s nuclear program if economic sanctions fail to compel Tehran to shelve its nuclear ambitions.” Goldberg’s article has triggered a series of other similar articles in the mainstream media, confirming the coming pressure by Obama against Israel.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu immediately responded favorably to US President Barack Obama’sspeech to AIPAC on Sunday, highlighting Obama’s remarks about Israel’s right to defend itself as it saw fit.“I appreciated the fact that he said Israel must be able to defend itself, by itself, against any threat,” Netanyahu said to reporters before meeting Canadian Jewish leaders.“I appreciated the fact that President Obama reiterated his position that Iran must not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons, and that all options are on the table," Netanyahu said. “I also appreciated the fact that he made clear that when it comes to a nuclear armed Iran, containment is simply not an option.”