President Obama said it was still possible to resolve Iran’s suspected bid for a nuclear weapon through diplomacy, but added that a military option was still on the table and that containment was not an option.
“I firmly believe that an opportunity remains for diplomacy, backed by pressure, to succeed,” Obama told the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference on Sunday in Washington.
“The United States and Israel both assess that Iran does not yet have a nuclear weapon, and we are exceedingly vigilant in monitoring their program,” he said. “Now the international community has a responsibility to use the time and space that exists.”
The comments did not earn applause; there have been reports that Israel and AIPAC are pressing Obama to make the military option more explicit.
Obama did appear to ratchet up the military threat later in the speech, earning a standing ovation after saying that his policy is to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
“Iran’s leaders should have no doubt about the resolve of the United States, just as they should not doubt Israel’s sovereign right to make its own decisions about what is required to meet its security needs,” the U.S. leader said. “I have said that when it comes to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, I will take no options off the table, and I mean what I say. That includes all elements of American power; a political effort aimed at isolating Iran; a diplomatic effort to sustain our coalition and ensure that the Iranian program is monitored; an economic effort to impose crippling sanctions; and, yes, a military effort to be prepared for any contingency.
“Iran’s leaders should know that I do not have a policy of containment; I have a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”